The Area 1 seat on the Fresno County Office of Education board is open, and three candidates are campaigning for the seat.

Incumbent Ismael Herrera opted not to run for re-election and instead is running unopposed for the Kerman City Council.

The trustee for Area 1 serves the Central, Firebaugh-Las Deltas, Golden Plains, Kerman, Mendota, Orange Center, West Fresno, West Park school districts, as well as the southwest region of Fresno Unified.

GV Wire asked candidates Richard Martinez, Kimberly Tapscott-Munson, and Randy Rocca their thoughts on education and the election via an emailed questionnaire.

While Kerman City Councilwoman Michele Arvance is on the ballot, she says she is not actively campaigning. She is throwing her support to Rocca instead.

Here are the candidates’ answers in their own words:

Randy Rocca

Randy Rocca

What is your background?

I grew up here in Central Unified, actually living on the same block for all but two years of my life. I’m a third-generation farmer, graduated from Central High in 1978, and obtained a BS in viticulture from Fresno State. I’ve been a self-employed farmer since I graduated in 1982, and along with that have worked for SunMaid growers for the last 8 1/2 years. I met my wife in the Fresno State Marching Band and we’ve been married since 1985. I have two married children (both of which graduated from Central High as well) and we have two adorable grandchildren.

Do you have any prior public experience or been a candidate before?

I ran for Central Unified School Board in 2016. I was appointed to serve on the Fresno County Planning Commission and served in that capacity for eight years including a term as the chairman.

What motivated you to run for office?

My father served on the Teague School Board and was an integral part of the unification process when Central became a unified school district. I follow in his footsteps as a business owner, fiscal conservative, and passion for this county. I was an involved parent when my children attended Central High and I now have grandkids who will be the next generation of Fresno County students.

What are your top priorities for FCOE?

Being a voice for the students, parents, teachers, and staff of the districts on the west side of Fresno County. I have a great relationship with many members of the communities I’ll represent such as Kerman, Tranquility, Firebaugh, and of course my home district, Central Unified. We have a large, diverse county with diverse needs in education. Our students deserve the best opportunities in education and those should include not only public schools, but career technical education, private, and charter school options.

What do you believe the role of a FCOE trustee is?

To educate myself as to the needs of the districts in my jurisdiction; serve as a liaison between the districts and FCOE, and support the County Superintendent as he advocates for our children.

What is your position on charter schools?

I support charter schools. We need to keep all options of education on the table for our kids and charter schools are a great option for meeting the needs of specific groups of our population.

What is the biggest problem FCOE students face now? What is the solution?

This is a quite complicated question and as I’m learning more about my districts, I believe my answers will change. The area I represent has much different needs than many of the other districts. As an oversight body to FCOE, we need to ensure that we are fiscally responsible, getting the most resources and best results for our kids’ educations with our taxpayers’ hard-earned money. We have a constantly changing economy and we need to prepare our students to succeed in this rapidly changing world.

Kimberly Tapscott-Munson

Kimberly Tapscott-Munson

What is your background?

I am a retired school librarian with 20 years of outstanding service to public schools. I have dedicated my life’s services to our children and students in our communities. I have a passion and a servant’s heart, to serve my community which I learned while attending Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Berkeley.

Do you have any prior public experience or been a candidate before?

I previously ran for Fresno City Council District 3 earlier this year. I participated in the TCC Planning Committee, which allocated $140 million dollars for improvements to the communities of southwest Fresno, Chinatown and downtown Fresno. I was one of the original nine, who created and proposed Project Option No. 5, which was voted and passed with a unanimous vote.

What motivated you to run for office?

I have committed my life’s journey to empowering, encouraging, and educating the children in my care to become leaders for the next generation. I am excited for this next chapter in my life where I can represent my communities on a larger platform. I truly believe that through education, we can uplift our communities.

What are your top priorities on FCOE?

The top priorities are fiscal reasonability, early childhood development, increasing our minority students reading levels and, hopefully, decreasing the numbers of minority and students with disabilities in the Juvenile Justice Court schools. The numbers are staggering

What do you believe the role of a FCOE trustee is?

The role of the Fresno County Board of Education, consisting of five elected board members, performs functions that are essential for the county office of education, the school districts within Fresno County, and the community. The County Board, working with the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools provides school facilities and an environment that are conducive to learning and growth for students enrolled in FCOE schools and programs. The County Board is also responsible for fixing the salary of the County Superintendent, approving the County Superintendent’s budgets, and approving the Local Control Accountability Plan for the juvenile court schools.

Working with the schools, parents, and community members, the County Board is an important forum for appeals on student inter-district transfers, student expulsions, and charter school petitions. The County Board is also responsible for considering county-wide charter school petitions. The County Board takes its responsibilities seriously and considers each matter in accordance with applicable laws.

Members of the County Board participate in the programs and activities of the county office of education and the school districts, and in community events. County Board members are involved in the Fresno County Trustees Association, Inc., the California School Boards Association, the California County Boards of Education, and other national, state, and local organizations. They can be found attending school graduations, engaging in civic events, participating in educational programs, and supporting community activities.

What is your position on charter schools?

Charter Schools are a fit for certain students. We have to meet our students where they are, on the learning spectrum. I worked at J.E. Young Academic Center for five years. It ran as an independent studies program, which was WASCA Accredited, I also served on the accreditation team, for Language Arts. Local charter schools pull the data from this site to do their comparisons to.

What is the biggest problem FCOE students face now? What is the solution?

I would say cohesiveness, for the betterment of all students under the umbrella of Fresno County Board of Education. The solution is collaboration and building bridges with all entities, to best serve all students of Fresno County.

 Richard Martinez

Richard Martinez

What is your background?

I grew up in Fresno’s Highway City area in Central Unified School District.  I am an alumnus of Teague Elementary, El Capitan Middle School, and Central High School.  In addition, I have an A.A. degree from Fresno City College and a B.A. in History (Classical Civilizations) from California State University Fresno. I served my country in the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division as generations of my family have before me; now including my son who is a recently discharged 82nd Airborne Army Infantry Veteran of Iraq.  I am a former educator in the classroom having taught U.S. History, Academic Decathlon, and AP European History.  I am currently a radio talk show host on KGED 1680 and a Director of Professional Development with Better Homes and Gardens Realty in Fresno.

Do you have any prior public experience or been a candidate before?

I have run for school boards and the Assembly. The most significant item I learned from those experiences is to stay clean, issue-oriented, and professional even when others do not.  In short, I have maintained my integrity and ethical approach to public service.

What motivated you to run for office?

Service to country and community. It is how I’ve lived my life, and how I will continue until I meet my maker!

What are your top priorities on FCOE?

Maintain the positive and strong programs currently in place while keeping a watchful eye on our spending, as well as advocating that all of the school districts in my area receive an evenhanded and fair shake for all of our students in Fresno County.

What do you believe the role of a FCOE trustee is?

Staunch, tireless, and powerful voice for students in all areas and from all backgrounds.

What is your position on charter schools?

I believe there is a place for charter schools in specific and select instances or areas, so long as they do not subvert or weaken a comprehensive and qualitative public school system.

What is the biggest problem FCOE students face now? What is the solution?

There is no bigger problem in education as a whole today than equity and quality of instruction at, and in, core curriculum.  Solutions are many and varied depending on your specific local school system and their special issues.  However, I feel that everything in education should be filtered through one prism that results in quality instruction in the classroom by competent and qualified teachers housed in first class and more than adequate (state minimum standard) facilities with the necessary resources and tools.  If this is not the end goal and mission objective, then our children do not receive what they need to grow into productive Americans and we have failed as adults to ensure a great education for all of our nation’s youth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

We've got issues, and we're willing to share
(but only if you want them in your inbox).