Meet FUESD Trustee Area 2 candidate Suzanne Lundin
Last updated 10/16/2020 at 9:28am
With Fallbrook Union Elementary School District Governing Board members Siegrid Stillman and Lisa Masten not running for reelection that leaves two vacancies on the board this November. And while Stillman and Masten were elected to their seats at-large – that is, representing the entire district – 2020 will be the first year in which FUESD elects its board members on a trustee area system.
The seats in trustee areas 2 and 3 are the ones up for election this year. Suzanne Lundin is running in trustee area 2, which covers a portion of northern Fallbrook, all of the San Diego County side of De Luz and a large swath of Camp Pendleton.
Published here are Lundin’s written responses to questions from Village News. Responses from Ricardo Favela, the candidate in trustee area 3, will be published next week.
What is your motivation for wishing to serve the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District and more specifically, the district you serve?
I believe every child deserves the opportunity to achieve their personal best, I personally know how life-changing an education can be. My family was poor, but my parents encouraged me to work hard in school because they believed a good education would give me a better future. A scholarship enabled me to attend UC Berkeley where I graduated with a political science degree and later completed a master’s in urban studies. The education I received opened an entire world of possibilities for me and I believe every child deserves that same opportunity to be successful…and with the right support, they can. As a member of the FUESD School Board, I will work to ensure that students and teachers get the resources and support they need for success.
In the upcoming term, what are your top three goals to address or accomplish for the district?
My top priority is student reading proficiency by the end of third grade. Elementary school years are critical for children because this is when they must acquire the basic skills of reading, writing and math. The research is clear – if students can become reading proficient by the end of third grade, they’re prepared to be successful in school. But without those skills, they will struggle and fall behind…and many will never catch up.
My second priority is closing achievement gaps by focusing on educational equity – ensuring that all students succeed by providing resources according to what individual students need.
For example, children from economically disadvantaged households or students who are English language learners often face unique challenges and require specific resources and support to be successful in school.
Thirdly, I will support our dedicated school personnel as well as take seriously my responsibility to provide strong oversight of the district’s fiscal and policy recommendations. Our decision-making criteria must be that students always come first. Whenever possible, we need expenditures that are results-oriented with measurable outcomes.
What do you bring to the board of trustees that is lacking if any? Or what do you bring to the table that makes the board better or more well-rounded?
Three new members, including myself, will be joining the two current members of the school board. I will bring expertise in strategic planning and organizational development as well as experience garnered from working with a wide range of nonprofit, corporate and civic organizations. This is significant because schools don’t exist in isolation, rather they are a core component of the community. Together, I think our school board will be a group with strong skills and diverse experiences.
What are the two biggest issues facing the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District in the next four years that you hope to address?
I am listing just one issue because I think it is one of the most critical challenges facing schools today.
Educators nationwide are recognizing the need to raise goals regarding reading proficiency levels. When only 55% of students can read at grade level by the end of third grade, the question begging to be answered is what about the 45% who are left behind? Shouldn’t we concentrate our energies and resources in grades TK-3 when children are “learning to read” rather than having to implement more expensive remedial reading programs afterward when they are expected to “read to learn” subjects such as math, social studies and science? Raising reading proficiency goals to 90% for Fallbrook’s elementary school students will require the best ideas and commitment from our district leaders, teachers, school staff, parents and the community. We won’t be alone, however, because there are other school districts that have taken on the challenge of achieving 90% reading goals and we can benefit from their experiences.
What qualifications or personality/intellectual traits do you have that make you appropriate or the right person for the job?
My extensive experience across a wide range of organizations and issues has given me the exact skills necessary for the school board. Over a 30-year career, I’ve worked with dozens of civic, corporate and nonprofit organizations providing high-level consulting support in strategic planning, organizational development and major gifts fundraising. I’ve served as the executive director of two nonprofit organizations. I’ve been a volunteer tutor for economically disadvantaged youth and seen firsthand what it’s like when students are struggling in school. Most importantly, I care about Fallbrook and the children of our community.