Get to know the Peoria Unified school board candidates: Linda Busam

Independent Newsmedia
Posted 9/11/20

In the November election there are nine candidates vying for three seats on the Peoria Unified School District governing board.

The three seats are currently held by Monica Ceja Martinez, Judy …

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Get to know the Peoria Unified school board candidates: Linda Busam


In the November election there are nine candidates vying for three seats on the Peoria Unified School District governing board.

The three seats are currently held by Monica Ceja Martinez, Judy Doane and David Sandoval.

Mr. Sandoval is seeking re-election, while Ms. Ceja Martinez and Ms. Doane have chosen not to run.

The candidates are: Linda Busam, Kacie Franklin, Rebecca Hill, Kirk Hobbs, Mr. Sandoval, Davita Solter, William Sorensen, Devon Updegraff-Day and CJ Williams.

The Peoria Indpenenedent will feature each candidate leading up to the election.

Get to know Ms. Busam here.

Age: 67

Career and education: Honeywell Sales; college coursework and certifications in nutrition and medical billing and coding

Years as an Arizona resident: 21

Family: Recent widow, Peoria resident of 21 years after relocating with husband of 46 years from Illinois. Married son with twin daughters who attend school in PUSD.

What do you think is the most important thing to consider regarding instruction during the pandemic?

Children need structure in order to ensure healthy development, both socially and academically. I believe it’s important to create a scheduled routine for learning at home during the pandemic. And, as long as schools remain closed for in-class instruction, online learning platforms should provide as much live and interactive learning as possible between teachers and students.

I believe it is still critically important to open schools for K-3 learners and special needs students. Using appropriate safety precautions and guidelines for teachers and students, this will ensure the needs of this vulnerable student population are met.

What ideas do you have to support PUSD schools in maintaining programs during a budget-strapped pandemic?

Given that the state has pledged that school districts will receive 98% of their funding for the current fiscal year, as a governing board member I would ensure that administration maximizes operational efficiencies, both in personnel and facilities for the duration of the pandemic. Schools that are shut down or partially shut down should be less costly to operate, and these savings could be used for other measures to create a safer return to in-class instruction.

How will you identify and advocate for the resources needed to ensure healthy and safe schools during the pandemic?

As mentioned, during the pandemic, the governor has pledged that school districts will receive 98% of their funding. Further, I believe the federal government is providing the state additional funding to weather the duration of the pandemic storm. This funding should be used for distance learning technology applications, as well as infrastructure to create safe on-campus instruction for students to return to the classroom. As a governing board member, I would be vigilant to ensure these financial resources are used wisely and efficiently.

What will you do to see that schools do not become overcrowded and how will you try to alleviate those schools that are already at capacity?

I would first revisit policy that permits out of district students enrolling in overcrowded schools. Second, I would temporarily use schools that are under capacity to create safe physical distancing for on-site instruction. Third, I would repurpose the Smart Center adjacent to Sunrise Mountain high school for regular classroom instruction to mitigate overcrowding. I would also consider year-round school by giving parents a choice of two different academic calendars that may fit their family needs.

How will you deal with inequities and other systemic barriers that keep low-income students and students of color from thriving? How will you strive for equity in the school system?

I would ask the following of administration: Can the school district provide to its governing board and members of the community where pockets of inequality and systemic barriers exist, and to what degree, are they present for our diverse student population?; I would further ask if federal government Title I funding is being used appropriately and efficiently within the district?; Finally, based on the prompting of this question by the newspaper — If the press believes this to be a serious problem — why has this information not been reported by local news media? Why have city officials not spoken out about this situation?

I believe parents/guardians, teachers and school administrators need to set high expectations for all students, no matter what ZIP code they live or what the color of their skin is. Promoting strong teacher-student-family relationships to increase student self-reliance, and motivation, that facilitates achievement, aspirations and behavior are critical for a student’s future. It’s important that institutions of society provide equal opportunities to set the stage for a successful life, not necessarily equal outcome.

With the pandemic affecting the social and emotional well-being of students, how do you plan to support wrap-around services for children?

•Social distancing should not mean social isolation. Online learning should provide structured and routine virtual classroom interaction between classmates and their teachers throughout the school week.
•Prioritize school counselor interactions and communication with at-risk students while ensuring student privacy.
•Create school-wide virtual talks that are motivational and involved guest speakers and community members.
•Offer one-on-one virtual and on-site tutoring programs.

What ideas do you have for addressing teacher retention in the district?

•Supporting new teachers through structured mentorship by experienced educators.
•For top-performing teachers, provide enhanced assignments and stipends.
•Expand and empower teacher decision-making regarding curriculum materials and assessment resources selections.