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Meet Moe Sarama, candidate for SJUSD school board

Moe Sarama. Image courtesy, candidate.

Note: As part of The Sentinel’s 2023 Special Election coverage, we have asked a series of six identical questions to both of the candidates running for the Area 7 seat on the San Juan Unified School Board. The questions are designed to give each of the candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community and give voters an opportunity to learn more about each candidate’s life and background. Candidates replied via email, and those who responded to each question in less than 100 words have their answers published word-for-word.

Why are you running for school board and what are your qualifications?

San Juan Schools educated my children. I have five kids, girls win, 3-2. I’m running for the school board because I have a vision for my kids and for all children and families in our community to feel safe, heard, and seen in our schools. I am a proud Sacramento State Hornet, businessman and a community advocate with graduate education in business and public administration. I currently serve our community on the San Juan Unified School District Facilities Committee, proud of my appointment by the late Steve Miller, may he Rest in Peace, who gave me his trust to serve.

What is one decision the school board has made that you disagree with (if any)?

Recently the board reviewed the district logo change; while I like the new logo, it was an expense that could have been avoided or at least better evaluated. There was not an extensive report outlying the cost of the change or estimated budget needed to rebrand vehicles, district signs and material. The statement provided was vague without exact data of estimated cost of the change.

What are your top 3 priorities, if elected?

  • Safety: Our utmost responsibility is to keep our kids safe by investing in the infrastructure of each campus, providing more resources and support staff #SafetyAboveAll
  • Decline in enrollment and Low-test scores in certain parts of the district, especially in Citrus Heights. This is something I will diligently review collaboratively with a task force to review root causes and address accordingly.
  • Workforce stability: The district, like all other education agencies, faces enormous pressures in securing highly qualified staff in many areas of operation. I will work with the board and the administration to recruit and retain skilled professionals.

What is your view of school choice?

School choice is here to stay in California. I support open enrollment because it allows families to select the school site that is best fit to educate their children. However, open enrollment can cause brain drain from specific areas in the wider district. To combat this, more needs to be done to invest in underserved schools so every campus is a destination school. With private schools, the growth of charters and home schools, families have an ability to move schools regardless of a district’s open enrollment policy.

Do you believe teachers are paid adequate salary and benefits in SJUSD?

Parents that value teachers, value their kids’ future. Last year Gov. Gavin Newsom included significant funding for California schools in the recent state budget to help in teacher shortages, retention, and work life balance for teachers. San Juan Unified teachers received a 10% raise in contracts designed to keep up with inflation that benefited from the increase in funding. When elected, we will continue to investigate retention rate, benefit packages, work life balance; to ensure we have the best classroom professionals in the region.

Who are your top 3 campaign donors?

Proud to have over 100 individual donations which will be updated on the next reporting deadline, as well as contributions from small businesses and our teachers.

Editor’s note: The Area 7 school board seat largely covers Citrus Heights, except for several portions of the city south of Greenback Lane and east of Mariposa Avenue. To learn more, see story: SJUSD Special Election 2023: Who’s running and how to vote

Voters can view the campaign websites for each candidate below:

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