|EGUSD Area 6 trustee and candidate Jake Rambo.|
Rambo, who is a graduate of Elk Grove High and currently an Administrative Law Judge with previous experience as an assistant district attorney, was appointed to the EGUSD board last spring following the resignation of Pam Irey. The appointment is effective until the seat could be filled for a four year term in the November election.
Rambo said that he originally sought appointment because of his long involvement in the schools and when Irey resigned, he saw an opportunity to put that experience to work for the benefit of the district.
"I saw an opportunity to provide a unique voice on the board when I applied," Rambo said. "But I spent time to determine whether the district would benefit from my involvement."
Rambo said he talked with several of the trustees, teachers, administrators and former district superintendent Dave Gordon. Much of the feedback he received was that it was a horrible time to be a school board trustee given the financial condition of school districts statewide.
"That appealed to me," Rambo said. "I felt that I could help fill that gap."
On the issue of the well-detailed labor strife between the Elk Grove teachers and administrators, Rambo said the even before his appointment, he reached out to members of the teachers association. Rambo acknowledged there are areas of agreement and disagreement between the two parties but said it is important to build relations with the teachers and recognize they all want quality education for the children.
Rambo also said the relationship between administrators and teachers has in part been frayed because of the overall state budget problems.
"There is a fracture in the relationship... and sometime we get caught up in who hurt who," he said. "What we really need to do is find a way to move forward."
Rambo noted that the biggest challenges for the district is not surprisingly finance and budgetary matters and that the district needs to vigilantly watch over its resources through streamlining district operations. He also said he is learning as much as he can about what the needs are of the students district wide.
Aside from focusing on improving operations in areas such as transportation, Rambo noted the ultimate goal is to provide a quality education, particularly to those disadvantaged areas within the district.
"You cannot be in public education without having a heart for and desire to see us improve the achievement gap," Rambo noted. "I have a real passion in that area."
When asked about the district's financial situation should Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 school tax measure fail and funding is cut, Rambo said the districts budget is designed to be based on a no-pass scenario. Rambo said the district is required to do a three year budget, but noted the agreement with teachers is for only one year.
"That is going to put tremendous pressure on our bargaining unit if it doesn't pass," he noted. "That is going to be the big challenge."
That is why Rambo said he has been focusing on building relations with district teachers and employees. On a personal basis Rambo said that the need to put Proposition 30 on the ballot and not make meaningful cuts to other parts of the state budget is a "classic failure of leadership" on the part of the state assembly and the senate and what they have done is effectively hold school funding as a hostage.
"We have to realign the way we fund education in this state, " Rambo said. "Education needs to be driven at the local level."
As a start, Rambo said he would like to see school district's be given more latitude in how it spends money that comes from the state. "Block grant those funds to me and hold our board accountable," he said.
Rambo said he would measure his success as a trustee if he is elected by improved relations with teachers, recruitment and retention of quality teachers and continued funding and expansion of the academies at district high schools.
Citing students at Cosumnes Oaks and Laguna Creek high schools who are developing a solar suitcase used to generate power in the developing world through their green energy and engineering academies, Rambo said theses are prime examples of how the academies are making significant contributions.
"They are literally changing the world," Rambo noted.