Candidate Paloma Saucedo responds to ForHHS2 survey

Describe your background in education, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, and public education.
I began my career as an educator in Mexico. I taught English as a Second Language and English as a Foreign Language at all levels (K-12 and post–secondary) in both the public and private sectors. I was also a teacher trainer for Secretaria de Educacion Publica de Coahuila (Secretary of Public Education of Coahuila). Other areas include my work for Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey (Monterrey Technical School), Instituto Comercial Bilingue (Bilingual Institute of Commerce), Instituto Mexicano–Americano de Relaciones Culturales (Mexican–American Institute of Cultural Relations), among others. When I came to Virginia, I developed a bilingual Early Literacy Program for infants and toddlers at the Waynesboro Public Library called Mama Ganso. I have also volunteered at First Baptist preschool as a teacher’s assistant. I have also served as a substitute teacher in the Harrisonburg City public schools, filling in for teachers, teacher’s assistants and reading specialists. Currently, I work as a Therapeutic Day Treatment Specialist and provide services in the city schools.

Do you think Harrisonburg needs a second high school?
Yes, absolutely! I was disappointed that the current (majority democratic) City Council voted to delay.

Give reasoning for your answer to Harrisonburg having a second high school.
Harrisonburg High School is currently severely overcrowded. This, no doubt, negatively impacts the quality of education our children are receiving and that is a shame.

When would you like to see a second high school open in Harrisonburg?
As soon as possible – preferably by 2021.

The current City Council voted to fund a second high school to open in 2023. What are your suggestions to alleviate overcrowding at HHS through the opening of a second high school?
An intentional/purposeful review of how space is currently being utilized would be a useful step. An important item to keep in mind, however, is to ensure that once the second high school is built and is part of the school system, that both high schools offer the same exact programs to all of the students, in an effort to ensure that all students have equal opportunities to succeed in their education journey, irrespective of family income.

Even though Bluestone Elementary is more than 50% larger than our other city elementary schools, our middle schools are near capacity and will become overcrowded during the tenure of our newly elected city council members. How will you address our city’s educational growth while still supporting the other needs of our community?
As your city council member, I will work with city and school officials to project growth and collaboratively determine the most efficient ways to address growth in ways that ensure both a high quality education, and an overall better quality of life for all our community members. As your council member, I will also advocate for a review of unnecessary expenses and projects as well as work toward reducing mass incarceration; so that we can redirect those resources to instead focus on education.

How familiar are you with the work completed by the Space Study Committee created by the Harrisonburg City School Board?
Very familiar — I participated in the Space Study Committee.

Please summarize your knowledge of the Space Study Committee and their recommendations.
Early last year (2017), Harrisonburg Public Schools began a process that engaged the city in matters of high school capacity and ways in which to adequately address growing enrollment. The Space Study Committee of about 30 various stakeholders embarked on a careful study of trends and projections and developed a recommendation to build a new high school. In late 2017, the School Board – through vote – chose a design for a new high school by Grimm & Parker and presented the proposal to City Council on December 12th. Unfortunately, in January this year, the majority democratic City Council didn’t vote to have a new High School by 2021, but instead delayed the process by two years.

Please summarize your knowledge of our group, ForHHS2.
I was invited to the group by parents with children at Harrisonburg High School, and have been an avid supporter of the efforts by ForHHS2 to improve the quality of our children’s education in Harrisonburg. I proudly display the yard sign at my house!

Is there anything you would like the public to know in particular to public education within the city?
Yes — as your city council candidate, these are the issues I am most concerned about, and would tirelessly advocate for, if elected:

  • Build a new high school NOW!
  • Ensure that the two high schools offer the same programs and/or guard against having one school that caters more to the privileged and the other to the less privileged among us. Opportunities must be equally accessible to all.
  • Expand the capacity and facilities in Harrisonburg to increase accessibility to high quality education that is safe and adequate to the needs of our students.
  • Protect the right to education of Harrisonburg city schools’ students regardless of immigration status.
  • Implement community prevention strategies that mitigate risks of gun violence, drug use, sex trafficking, bullying and low graduation rates; understanding the disproportionate effects of these issues on communities of color and the poor among us.
  • Create incentives for the pursuance of technical and/or higher education opportunities for our youth.

You can learn more about Ms. Saucedo at http://palomasaucedo.org. If you’d like to talk more with Ms. Saucedo about education or other issues, you can reach her at friendsofpaloma@gmail.com.

One Reply to “Candidate Paloma Saucedo responds to ForHHS2 survey”

  1. It seems a bit disingenuous to finger point by saying that “the majority Democratic (sic) City Council” didn’t approve the unanimously endorsed school board proposal, intimating that Democrats were at fault. The facts are (a) two of the 3 Democrats on the Council voted against the motion to delay until 2023 and (b) it was a Republican, Independent and 1 Democrat that voted in favor of the delay.
    Also, one must be careful not to confuse equity and equality as seems to be the case with suggesting that the two high schools should have the same programs. Careful, professional planning on the curricular offerings of the 2 schools will absolutely occur in accord with the HCPS goal of equity at the forefront.

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