The race to represent Area 3 on the SRVUSD Board of Education officially has its first candidate to throw their hat into the ring with the announcement that Laura Bratt is seeking a leadership position on the board.
A local volunteer and resident of San Ramon with four children enrolled in SRVUSD middle and high schools, Bratt said the three words that best describe her campaign priorities are transparency, equity and compassion, three qualities that she intends to bring with her to the board.
"My children each approach learning and life in their own way. They have taught me that every person -- student, teacher, staff member, administrator, parent and community member -- is an individual, has a unique perspective, and has the right to be heard," Bratt said on her campaign website.
"I am dedicated to listening to all stakeholders as well as gathering information and data so that I can view each issue through the lens of transparency, equity, and compassion, helping our board make the best decision for each specific situation facing our district," she added.
Bratt has listed three specific key issues she will seek to address if elected, those issues include the safe transition from remote back to in-person learning, tackling the current budget shortfall and ensuring that diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging are key tenets of the district.
Getting students back into the classroom, a hot button issue for many school districts throughout the country right now, is a top priority for Bratt, but only when it is safe to do so.
"The quick and reactionary transition to remote learning last March due to COVID-19 was very difficult for everyone involved. The teachers and administration have spent countless hours trying to 'make it work' even though they’ve been given a moving target," Bratt said.
She also said she would prioritize "the student communities that have the most to lose from remote learning," such as special education, ESL, food and housing insecure families and early elementary-age students.
Highlighting issues related to budgetary restraints, Bratt highlighted that over the next three years the SRVUSD is projected to see budget shortfalls of $16 million for the 2020-2021 school year, then $28 million for the 2021-2022 school year and $38 million for the 2022-2023 school year.
While noting that those shortfalls are primarily attributed to a projected decline in enrollment, Bratt said the high salaries collected by upper management officials appear to put an additional strain on the district's finances.
"While I don’t have the magic answer and know that our administration has been hard at work balancing the budget, I struggle with some of the expenditures -- mainly the superintendent and top admin raises costing $710,556," Bratt said. "While I am not privy to all the information, I believe this decision was not in the best interest of our students... I would insist that our administration review all expenditures."
Further promoting a systematic change within the SRVUSD, Bratt says one of her key goals will be to highlight the benefits that arise when a community supports diversity and inclusion among its residents.
"I will do this by shining a light on the value of diversity, inclusion and equity, guiding conversations around ways to support, learn from and celebrate our broad spectrum of communities, and make decisions based on equity so that every student leaves our school system feeling empowered, heard, culturally intelligent and ready to take on the world," she said.
A local volunteer with experience at a number of levels, Bratt has served on the SRVUSD's Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Stakeholder Committee, the Iron Horse Middle School Site Council and the Cal High Band Boosters.
She has also served on a number of non-profit organizations including Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of the Danville San Ramon Valley, Contra Costa NOW and Destination Imagination to name a few.
Bratt is seeking to replace outgoing board vice president Mark Jewett, who recently announced he will not be running for re-election in order to focus more on his career and family.
She is seeking to win the Area 3 seat on the board, which primarily encompasses the Dougherty Valley in San Ramon.
Residents can learn more about Bratt and her campaign online at www.votelaurabratt.com.