Briggs School District Board Candidates

October 29, 2010
Three incumbent s and two challengers in Briggs board election
Santa Paula News

Three incumbent board members are facing off with two challengers in the Briggs School District board election.

There are three seats up for grabs in the race.

The incumbents are Mindee Stekkinger, Karen Schilbrack and Charles Alvarez. The challengers are Ramon Castillo and Victoria Jump.


Charles Alvarez

Alvarez has been a Santa Paula resident since 1987, and was first elected to the Briggs board in 1998. He works as a senior real property agent for the Ventura County Public Works Agency. He was born and raised in Ventura County.

Alvarez believes his efforts to provide students, teachers, classified staff, and administrators with the best facilities and resources possible, and his sincere appreciation of the hard work of all of the staff, have helped to foster an outstanding learning and working environment. “My focus as a governing board member has been to constantly strive to improve the District,” he said.

“These are very challenging financial times. The Briggs School District deserves to have governing board members with the knowledge and experience necessary to guide it through these uncertain times. I have that knowledge and experience,” he said.

As a member of the Briggs Governing Board, he opposed the proposed unification of the Santa Paula Union High School District, the Santa Paula Elementary School District, and the three smaller feeder districts – of which Briggs is one. “Fortunately, he added, the California State Board of Education sided with the small school districts and allowed Briggs, Mupu, and Santa Clara to remain independent.”

Alvarez says he believes the Briggs School District is doing a good job with the resources that it has. “Our district administrators and teachers work very hard to identify the strengths and weaknesses of all of our students, and to create an educational plan appropriate for each student.”

“I feel the Briggs School District is very soundly managed,” he said. “While funding cuts are a constant challenge, this District has been better able to manage the cuts because the Board had the foresight years ago to double the amount of money that it holds for economic uncertainties. As a Board, we have tried to keep budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. We also made a point of cutting administration to the bone before seeking cuts elsewhere in the budget.”

Alvarez says he thinks Briggs is doing a good job of preparing its students for high school. “Obviously, there is always room for improvement, but, anecdotally, several high school teachers have mentioned to me over the years that Briggs students are among the better prepared for high school…. Our science program is a great example of some of the innovative ways we are preparing our students for high school and college.”


Karen Schilbrack

Schilbrack is a financial administrator. She has a B.A. from UCD, did her postgraduate work in education at Cal Poly SLO, and has a lifetime California Elementary Teaching Credential.

She has lived in the Briggs Elementary School District since 1963, and was elected to the Briggs Board of Trustees in 2002. She says she’s running because she’s a proactive parent, concerned with giving children the best possible educational experience through her continued service as a valued member of the Briggs governing board.

On the subject of unification she notes, “Briggs Elementary School District is not part of the unification process. We have a very robust education program and financial base, so would not benefit from unification.”

Schilbrack says the Briggs Elementary School District continues to improve test scores every year. “The administration and teachers are dedicated, innovative, and I fully support their efforts to tailor the education presentation to the needs of the students.”

She says school districts have been dealing with state cuts for several years. “As a current and past board member, I have been instrumental in guiding the district to prudent financial management…. As a result, Briggs is one of the few districts in the county not operating in a deficit spending. If elected, I will continue to support financial management that makes the best use of the funds available to provide outstanding curriculum content, including music, science, technology, without over-spending.”

She concluded by saying, “Briggs Elementary School district students are very well prepared for high school. They perform well at whichever high school they attend and many go on to college.”


Victoria Jump

Jump is the parent of two children in the Briggs School District, secretary of the PFO, and in the past has chaired the school site council. Professionally she sits on boards at the local and state level that administer programs serving thousands of people. “I feel that I’m qualified for this position as a parent and as an administrator,” she said.

She was opposed to the unification of the Briggs School District with the other districts in Santa Paula. “Unification only makes sense if all parties stand something to gain,” she noted. “Briggs stood far more to lose than any potential gain. I was glad to see that the state removed the district from unification consideration.”

Jump says that, from her work on the school site council and with PFO, it’s clear staff and the administration take improving test scores seriously, while at the same time trying to create a nurturing learning environment. “Rather than focus on those children that did not pass the STAR test, the district has focused on every child and their potential for improvement,” she said.

“PFO has provided incentives such as juice, muffins, pencils and treats and rewards. Test scores are improving, but, more importantly, children understand the link between their individual test score and the District’s scores.”

She says the district has done an outstanding job of dealing with past state cuts. She added, “Thankfully the district is blessed with great administration and teaching staff, which has allowed the district to continue to offer cutting-edge educational programming in the face of state budget cuts. The efforts of PFO and parental support of fundraising efforts, have supplemented the music program.

She also says the district is doing an outstanding job of providing a quality education that prepares all kids for high school. “The strong science, math and music programs, as well as the after school program (which in itself is like an after school learning academy), provide opportunities for children to excel in private or public high schools.”

She added, “As a parent of a fifth and seventh grader, I can personally attest to the quality of instruction and thoughtfulness that goes into the lesson plans and assignments. With Briggs it’s clear that the school is not just preparing kids to pass standardize tests or to get into a good high school, they are preparing kids for life.”


Mindee Stekkinger

Mindee Stekkinger has been a board member of the Briggs Elementary School District for three terms, since 1998. She has three children that graduated from Briggs.

Two are in college and one is a junior in high school. “My children all had wonderful experiences at Olivelands and Briggs that contributed to their subsequent educational successes,” she said.

Stekkinger is an attorney associated with the law firm of Beach, Whitman & Cowdrey in Oxnard. During her time as a board member she has seen the district through other tough financial times, she’s been involved in hiring two new superintendents and an interim superintendent, and has gone through the process of building the new Olivelands School. “I feel that my experience through the past 12 years is important to help our district weather the difficult financial challenges, and to keep our district moving in the positive direction that we have been moving,” Stekkinger said.

She said that they have a unique and terrific district. And, she added, “Despite the financial challenges in our state of the past few years, Briggs has been able to maintain our music programs at both schools, our technology program and our science program. While we’ve had to tighten our belts like all school districts in the state, I think it’s a testament to our administration, our business office and our board working together for common goals that we have been able to maintain programs essential to the education, growth and development of our students.”

She noted they recently instituted an intensive program in the district to help improve the learning skills of all the students, but in particular the ESL students. “This has been a cooperative effort with the board, administration, faculty and families, and we are all very excited and hopeful for positive results for our students…. My biggest goal is to improve the education and learning ability of the students of our district – to make our students life-long learners. Improving test scores is not the goal, but rather the result of this.”

Stekkinger said she definitely feels the Briggs District has consistently been preparing students for high school. “This is evidenced by a large number of our students being in the top percentage of the Santa Paula High School graduating classes and, oftentimes, as was the case this year, of being the class valedictorian.”

Ramon Castillo

Ramon Castillo did not respond to the questionnaire.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.