Question & Answer With Elk Grove Unified School Trustee, Candidate Nancy Chaires-Espinoza

October 4, 2016 |   

Anyone who has followed Elk Grove government over the last several years is undoubtedly familiar with Nancy Chaires-Espinoza. A current Trustee with the Elk Grove Unified School District, Chaires-Espinoza represents Area 6 of the district and is seeking a four-year term to the board.
Chaires-Espinoza with her son Nicolás at the recent
Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club meeting.

Before her 2014 appointment to the EGUSD Board of Trustees, Chaires-Espinoza served on the Elk Grove Planning Commission starting in 2008 as an appointee of former Elk Grove Council Member and current California Assemblymember Jim Cooper. Currently, Chaires-Espinoza is running for a four-year term on the board and faces one opponent.

In the lead-up to this November's election, Chaires-Espinoza has received numerous endorsements for her candidacy. Those endorsements included the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club, the Elk Grove [teachers] Education Association, California School Employees Association Local 831, AFSCSME, and several individual endorsements from elected officials. 

Recently Chaires-Espinoza met with EGN shared her thoughts on a host of topics.       

Please share any biographical information with our readers.

I have a very full life, which helps me relate to the families of our students. I’m a wife, mother to an 18-year old and a four-month-old. My older son graduated from Franklin High School in May 2016, three days after his brother was born. I have worked in education policy and government accountability throughout my entire career, and I currently work full time advocating in the State Legislature on behalf of public schools.

What is your position on the State school bond issue, Proposition 51? 

I support Proposition 51 because Elk Grove Unified cannot modernize its aging schools or build the new ones it needs without state bond funds. School districts receive money every year from the state for operations, but there is only money available for facilities when a statewide bond is approved. For decades, there has been a statewide school facilities bond every two to three years, but it has now been ten years since the passage of the last statewide bond. The funds for school modernization and construction have long since run out.

What is your position on the EGUSD school bond Measure M?

I support Measure M because it will allow us to reduce overcrowding and provide our students with the safe, modern schools they deserve. It will address the needs of each of our existing campuses, and help us build the new schools we will need to keep up with development in the next decade.

What do you think is the largest untapped or unrealized opportunity for the district's students that you feel should be pursued?

The largest untapped opportunity for our students is to modernize our curriculum to give our graduates a competitive edge when applying for college and competing in the job market. For example, school districts across the state have established successful dual language programs or traditional foreign language instruction in elementary schools. We should teach foreign language when students are best able to learn it, as opposed to waiting until middle school or high school, when it is much more difficult to learn a new language.

What have you learned about the district, district operations, or students in the last two years that you were not aware of before becoming a Trustee? 

Before becoming a Trustee, I could not have imagined how personally invested I would feel in the success or failure of each and every student in the district. Commencement is a very emotional time, whether I’m celebrating an academic all-star for receiving a full-ride scholarship or a student who has overcome tremendous adversity just to graduate from high school. When a student doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities he or she has or gets into trouble, I’m consumed by thoughts about what else we could have done to make a difference in the student’s life.

Is there any other issue you would like to address as Trustee? 

My parents were only able to attend a combined four years of schooling, so I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in life. I grew up in a family that didn’t know how to navigate the public school system. It’s important to me that we serve our diverse families well, instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach. As a mom and an education advocate, I hope the voters will give me the chance to continue the work I’ve started on the Elk Grove Unified School Board to prepare each and every student entrusted to us for a successful future.

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