JEN GRINAGER for Templeton School Board
JEN GRINAGER for Templeton School Board
I do have experience in finance. As a Realtor, I have been studying the economy and assisting clients in the purchase of homes for the past 17 years. I can read a read a balance sheet, I know principles of double entry accounting, and have experience in Public Finance which is crucial to being on the School Board. I am fiscally conservative, extremely careful of taxpayer funds and want to see every dollar spent to promote academic excellence, preparation for life and the mental health of students. I believe the community of Templeton deserves more accountability, transparency and for the district to make the most out of available resources.
I moved to the County in 1996 and to Templeton in 2009. One big reason for running for the School Board is that my son has attended school here from Kindergarten and is currently in fourth grade at VES. I am very involved in his education and understand all the issues he is facing. I have attended school board meetings all over the County in order to understand how to better serve the community. I want to get Templeton Schools back to a higher ranking.
Do you have a background in anything related to your duties on the school board that voters should know about? (This could include education, finance, politics, etc.)
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and a Masters in Counseling. I worked for the Sanger Unified School District as a School Counseling Intern, specifically with At Risk Youth at the beginning of my career as a therapist. I have worked in many different environments as a therapist working with children, from private practice to Child Welfare. I have volunteered my time advocating for parents in the public school system. I have also worked for the Public Health Department in Kings County in their HIV/AIDS program. I was responsible for managing the budget of the CARES Act funds and for providing counseling and services to the HIV/AIDS population.
I do have experience in finance. As a Realtor, I have been studying the economy and assisting clients in the purchase of homes for the past 17 years. I can read a read a balance sheet, I know principles of double entry accounting, and have experience in Public Finance which is crucial to being on the School Board. I am fiscally conservative, extremely careful of taxpayer funds and want to see every dollar spent to promote academic excellence, preparation for life and the mental health of students. I believe the community of Templeton deserves more accountability, transparency and for the distict to make the most out of available resources.
Why are you running for school board? Was there any specific thing/event/cause that compelled you to run?
It was a combination of learning about changes in the curriculum and then further spurred on by the effect of COVID on students and the entire educational process. Many of the concerns I had about the curriculum became much more obvious as COVID hit. Myself and most other parents were experiencing and seeing first hand the effects of quarantine, isolation and masks while we home schooled our children. Mental Health issues in children had already skyrocketed by 600% prior to COVID mostly due to the increase in screen time and social media. The isolation due to the pandemic exacerbated this and has created an even larger issue with an increase in depression, anxiety, OCD, suicidal ideation and violence in our schools. This is, of course, is having a drastic impact on kids’ ability to learn as they are overwhelmed with what they just came through. Teachers and Admin are struggling with this daily as well and I believe my background would be invaluable in helping the district through these challenges. When I am on the Board I will address issues such as lack of play for younger students as a key component of their education and the psychological trauma from the mishandling of COVID.
Do you believe that school boards should be nonpartisan bodies?
The issues presented to school boards have to do with our children’s education and therefore all of our futures. I believe most people still believe in basic family values and that is not political. I am passionate about education and the mental and physical health concerns of our kids and the earlier we reach them the better. Parents and students need to have their concerns presented to the board and this is not a political issue. I will advocate for their needs and make sure the board is free from ideological influence, outside influence and groups attempting to indoctrinate students into making choices that they are too young and inexperienced to make.
What is the single most important issue you’d like to address while on the school board?
The most important thing for me is local control and making sure that parents have the ability to make decisions regarding their children’s education. Parents tend to know best what is needed for their child and parents are the last group to be consulted with when it comes to policy changes and curriculum. I would like to work towards more inclusion of parents, more transparency, and better communication between the District and parents.
Do you think your district should do anything more to support LGBTQ+ students, students of color and/or other marginalized students? If so, how would you go about starting such changes?
We need to do a better job of teaching all children to not bully others based on differences. To focus on any one group to the exclusion of another is a mistake and just creates deficiencies and biases in a different direction. As a board member I will be focused on the mental well-being of all students. I have a background as a therapist, worked in Social Services and feel uniquely qualified to deal with these issues.
Are you concerned about any of the books available in the library and/or curriculum taught in the district, if so which and why?
Yes, I am extremely concerned because there has been national news of pornographic and sexually charged curriculum in the schools. People in Templeton have felt that is not going to happen here but we need to safeguard our kids and be on the alert. As a Board member I would make sure there is transparency, parents are involved and that any inappropriate material is brought to the forefront. I am also hearing from teachers in our District as well as from parents in the middle and high schools that they have deep concerns particularly with the extreme teachings in our sex ed curriculum. Our State has made laws dictating what must be in our curriculum, but I know that Districts still have some latitude. Parents need to be made more aware and have easier access to just what is included in our curriculum for sex education and how early it is implemented. I have had one teacher in a neighboring district tell me that the Sex Ed curriculum is so graphic and inappropriate that she calls in sick every year to avoid being put in a place to teach it to her students. As a Board Member I will be on top of this situation and proactive to protect our students.
Do you think the district is doing enough to help address learning loss that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic? Is there anything you would like to improve?
Yes, the district is trying very hard and as a Board Member I will certainly continue and improve on that effort and that is why I am very anxious to be involved. Templeton has provided Summer School for the past two summers to any student who wants it within the confines of the amount of staff available to teach it. There have been additional supports for reading, speech therapy, etc, but there are still students struggling. Our District saw 70% of their student population testing below grade level in one or more subjects. We have a staffing issue and budget constraints that are the biggest barriers to combating the learning loss. We need to partner with parents and the community to brainstorm and think outside the box to help our students recover. Some ideas that I would like to explore is to seek parent and college students who would like to volunteer some time to help with tutoring, look for accelerated curriculum, concentrate on fundamentals, reach out to other school districts to find out how they are handling the learning loss, increase and expand resources for summer sessions, consider Saturday sessions, and consider year-round school.
What are any additional priorities of yours while serving on the board?
My additional concerns and priorities is to create awareness of Fentanyl exposure, counter sex trafficking, work with NGO’s that have programs geared to keeping students safe from predators, provide education to parents regarding social media traps and how to stay abreast of parental controls to safeguard their kids, and to work with teachers and school staff on creating better working environments through recognition and creating a method that allows for more constructive feedback from teachers to Administrators to help get needs met.
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