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1. Issue - Safety and Security

Firs off I support our Police and Military.  I ask no matter who you support in this election to be on the school board, please support our Police, Military veterans, and all of the hard working people in the Irvine Unified School District.

Like many people do my family and I moved to Irvine for to the “good” schools. Unfortunately upon arrival I realized we have serious security issues that put my own children at risk.  I am and will continue to work tirelessly to fix those issues.

I have spoke many times on the record since October 2015 publicly to the IUSD School Board and have not received a direct response from them until 13 September 2016 when I spoke about a budget question but still have not been able to have a normal conversation with them.

I spoke to my son's principal before the Paris attacks in September concerned about the issue. I spoke publicly to the board BEFORE the San Bernadino Attacks advising them the security situation is taking a turn for the worse but was ignored.  I spoke to them again after the Brussels attack and again after the attacks in Istanbul, Orlando, Nice France, etc. I think most of us have lost count at this point.

I have met with the principal's of my child's school, the assistant IUSD superintendent and the IUSD Risk Manager to discuss the security issues at length.  I have attended an IUSD quarterly safety meeting chaired by the IUSD Risk Management Director and was briefed by the safety managers from major sites around the district and listened to their concerns and had the chance to speak to them. I was impressed at how much passion they had for their work. However, even with the best people to do the job if they don't have the proper resources or tools they can't get the job done. 

Mayor Steve Choi himself told me that some politicians feel that public opinion is aesthetics are more important than safety and security... I have talked to countless parents in the IUSD. I have not heard anyone tell me they are NOT concerned about the string of terror attacks over the past year or the safety of our kids.

I feel confident that the site safety managers, teachers, principals and staff at the district are competent and up to the task of addressing security issues when we have the correct plan.  However, they need strong elected leaders to support them and give them the resources they need to do their jobs.

I have written and executed many safety/security plans including three years of overseas missions, rewriting the master plan for all of the Army Reserve units in the Pacific. I wrote and managed major Anti-terrorism exercises to include the specific scenarios encompassing all of the Pacific Army Reserve units and outside civilian agencies (HPD, Fed Fire, EOD, DA Police, etc.) and adjacent US Army support units.

Redesigning/writing/updating the district plan is simple. It is a three phase plan that is designed specifically for the district who can disseminate it (I will not go into detail on this website). Each phase is complex, however the application of it will be very simple and focus on ease of use rather than creating needless regulations. The plan also utilizes existing government resources and my volunteer service to eliminate unnecessary costs.

2. Honest and open communication

Over the past year I have seen that there is a big issue with communication in our district. When we don't communicate people get frustrated and lose confidence in their elected leaders.

I have literally talked to thousands of people in Irvine and I see the frustration and lack of confidence people have.  At this point I have literally knocked on thousands of doors to greet voters and give them a chance to question me personally.  I have been greeted with overwhelming positive responses, being physically hugged and given unsolicited campaign donations because of my willingness to have open and honest conversations with people.  This has touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.  I will work my hardest to live up to the expectations of the Irvine people and be your champion that will never quit.

3. School Overcrowding.

With the explosion of growth in the past few years the IUSD has experienced overcrowding in schools in some cases up to 40 students in one classroom. My own family has been displaced as well.  We live in Woodbury but we were displaced to another school and now we have to drive about 4-5 miles one way to his elementary school.  This takes me about 40-45 minutes round trip but yet Woodbury elementary school is within walking distance of my current residence.  I have been told several times there is a long waiting list.  We are on the waiting list yet again for first grade but have been told it is unlikely we will get in this year. This puts a huge strain on many facets of life.  I have talked to many families and this story is all too common. Upon my election it will be top priority to study this and reorganize staff recourses to accommodate the public’s needs.

Update (March 2017): The Irvine Company plans to build 2,000 new apartments at the I5 and Sand Canyon (Near Woodbury). After learning of this and being told my son is on the waiting list again for the third year to get into the school across the street, I spoke to city council and encouraged them to coordinate with the IUSD Board to ensure that we have enough classroom space to handle the influx of students. As a result of this engagement I learned a lot about why there is a breakdown of positive relationships between the two.

***Note (I want to be clear on this) I am not against the Irvine Company or any private company! I actually live in an Irvine Company apartment pending us finding a home to purchase in IUSD.*** 

It is no secret to some but I only recently learned that there has been bad blood between Irvine City Council and IUSD Board over the claim that the City may have violated the sovereignty of IUSD. Learning this, I was frustrated as it seems my kids, their classmates and their families are suffering over someone's bruised ego... 

I believe that if IUSD Board can put the past away and work with the Irvine City Council to find real solutions I am positive we will improve our planning capability.  

4. Avoid Centralization of power, keep decision making at the local level. 

I have worked in government since I was 17 and it always seem someone wants to control everything and consolidate power for one reason or another.  I don’t understand why all the micromanagement… Micromanagement never works out and just breed distrust in organizations.  I keep in line with the founding superintendent’s vision of keeping IUSD decentralized to encourage creativity and innovation throughout the district.

5. Special needs families. 

I feel very strongly about helping our special needs families. Though I do not have special needs kids. Many of my close friends and family have special needs kids and I see the hardship endured by the parents.  They are suffering in silence and need an advocate.

I have spoken publicly to the IUSD Board and asked them to help a special needs parent (Christine) that has two kids, one of which is a classmate of my son.  Christine’s younger son is an autistic child will be going to school soon on the same campus.  Christine’s autistic child is physically very healthy and can run very fast.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t listen and if not stopped he will run right in front of traffic.  This is a big problem as one side of the school is a big field the kids play on that is directly adjacent to a busy street with fast moving traffic.  I proposed to the district we create some type of barrier.  Christine and I estimate a small 3-foot high row of thick hedges on one side of the field would be a sufficient safety barrier for him and other kids and many other parents seem to agree. 

As I am campaigning and learning about IUSD, it seems we have a lot of the problems that have huge consequences if not fixed but the solutions are so small and common sense. I am scratching my head as why are we not fixing these problems???

6. School Transportation.

At the recent candidate orientation at the IUSD I asked about school buses and why don’t we have them. I was told that only students that are displaced get that and also the parent must pay for it. This situation is unfortunate and is a resource the will have to acquire and improve upon in the future.  I will work as hard as I can to get us resources from the state to address this and many other issues that are depending on resources given to us from the state.

Update (Feb 2017): After being frustrated on this issue with IUSD, I went and spoke publicly to Irvine City Council about the lack of school buses. The Mayor and a City Council Member went to IUSD Board and pushed the issue the best they could. After this I guess I couldn't' be ignored. I was able to finally (after two years of lobbying the IUSD Board) to get a one on one meeting with a member of the IUSD Board. In which he staunchly opposed school buses. I disagreed with him for many reason one being the lack of school buses puts undue stress on young families and mothers that are attempting to reenter the workplace. 

7. Leadership

Leadership-The IUSD needs leaders, Leaders who will provide purpose, motivation and direction while working to accomplish the mission of the IUSD.  I have decades of leadership experience in high stress environments making common send decisions for complex organizations with difficult missions. I will bring that experience to the IUSD ensuring a bright future for all. 

I am always here to listen and help. Together we can find solutions that work for our community.  My personal contact information is below. I take great pride in returning messages from the community as quickly as possible, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. 

-Mark

949-529-0497
Mark.Newgent@kw.com

 


 


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