Testifying before the State Board of Education

July 11th, 2014
Randall Putz testifies before the California State Board of Education
Randall Putz representing Bear Valley Unified School District before the State Board of Education
Bear Valley Unified Local Control Accountability Plan

I was invited to testify before the California State Board of Education on July 10, 2014, to share our Bear Valley Unified School District‘s experience creating its first Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) as mandated by the recent Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) legislation.

While I had been to Sacramento before to lobby our State lawmakers on behalf of our schools and Valley, I had never provided testimony before the State. It was quite a production – we were lined up and I was speaker #46, given just 1 minute to speak. It was a good reminder for me of how intimidating it can be to address a Board.

I wanted to let the State Board members know that it is important to keep the “Local” in the LCFF and LCAP, as I believe our local community knows what is best for its local children. (See my testimony below.) As an example of innovative work that can come from the local level, I also mentioned our District’s LCAP Infographic, to find out later that the State Board members specifically mentioned it during their discussion as a good tool to reach out to parents and the community. I must say it is gratifying when the State of California takes notice of your School District’s hard work.

Here’s my testimony:

Hello, I’m Randall Putz, a School Board Trustee from Bear Valley Unified, a small rural district in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains.

I urge you to keep the “Local” in the LCFF. As a result of our LCAP process, our District is energized and revitalized, with more latitude and money, to develop innovative education programs tailored to the needs of our local children.

I have here, and you should have in your materials, our District’s LCAP Infographic, one example of our unique local solutions that distills the State LCAP template down from 47 pages to 8. This infographic efficiently demonstrates the hard work and good things we do for our students, engages our stakeholders, and even communicates to the English-challenged.

We have a significant investment in the steep learning curve of our LCAP, over 1000 hours, and need a chance to capitalize on that investment, without excessive State tinkering.

Thank you for being brave enough to trust local elected officials and their communities to determine what is best for their local children.

Investing in Education – Proposition 30 Interview

January 9th, 2013

I really do believe education is one of our best investments. Here’s a recent TV Interview I did on California’s Proposition 30 passage (fast forward to 19:53 in):

Re-elect Putz to BVUSD Board of Trustees

September 30th, 2012

The following information summarizes what I have worked toward with my fellow Board Members over the last 4 years, how it has helped positioned our School District for forward progress in difficult times, and what I plan to do should I be re-elected on November 6th.

If you support my leadership, I’d appreciate your vote. Beyond that, however, I’d appreciate your help spreading this message. Please ask your friends to support the momentum we’ve gained by voting for me as well. I need you to help me help our Valley’s children.

I have and will continue to:

1.) MINIMIZE THE PAIN

I’ve always remembered that Bear Valley Unified School District, first and foremost, is about our children, keeping education cuts as far away as possible from students and essential programs, and making difficult financial decisions while still focused on children. I will continue to keep students the priority and minimize the direct impact on them.

2.) MAXIMIZE RESOURCES

We have successfully retained a very capable and engaged Superintendent who has embraced our Community and its children. As Board President and a former founding member of the Bear Valley Education Trust, I have worked hard to build consensus among the District leadership and foster support for our Schools among our Valley community. I continue to promote a District culture of empowerment and accountability that keeps the Board properly focused on governance, oversight, and strategic policy. I will continue to maximize existing resources, hold District employees accountable for great performance, and grow alternative means of support for our School District.

3.) LEAD CHANGE

With an updated District Strategic Plan focused on our children’s critical 21st Century Skills now in place, we are well positioned to tackle the education challenges ahead in a thoughtful, caring, and consistent manner. I will continue to advocate and lobby on behalf of our children at the local, County, State, and Federal levels, building consensus, and encouraging others to place a higher value on education. I believe “business as usual” will kill Public Education and that we must figure out ways to do an even better job with even less money. I look forward to helping lead our District toward a bright and innovative future.

By all accounts, Big Bear enjoys great schools, and does so through the dedication, hard work, and generosity of our District Employees, Parents, and Community. We have several California Distinguished Schools and have even been ranked as a Silver Medal school in the top 8% of all high schools in the Nation by US News and World Report. Personally you, like I, probably have benefitted from our schools, and I am grateful my children now flourish in college due to the Big Bear education they received.

I’d encourage you to help maintain consistent District leadership by also voting for Bev Grabe and Paul Zamoyta, both of whom have worked hard for our students and have been an important part of the District’s progress. Thank you for your consideration, for supporting our Big Bear students, and for voting Putz on November 6th.

Sincerely,
– Randy

Measure M gets 51% of the Vote, But Not Enough To Win

July 11th, 2012

While a 51% majority of Big Bear Valley voters supported Measure M, unfortunately the 67% needed to pass the Measure did not materialize. I am grateful to the many people who worked hard for the votes we did get. For those of you who voted in support of our students, for those of you who value investing in our Valley’s children, I thank you. See the final election results at the San Bernardino Registrar of Voters.

Advocating For Our Students, For Our Schools

December 13th, 2011

“No generation of educators in the history of the world has been asked to do what Americans now demand of their public schools.” This quote from Jamie Vollmer is dead-on. Motivated in part by Jamie’s presentation at the recent California School Board Association’s Annual Education Conference, I wrote and recorded the following Public Service Announcement for our local radio station, KBHR:

Listen to the PSA

Special thanks to KBHR’s Angela Meyers, and especially Rick and Cathy Herrick for their ongoing support of our local schools. The transcript:

BVUSD Radio PSA – 12/9/11

Hi, I’m Randall Putz, President of the Bear Valley Unified School Board of Trustees. Three years ago when the Valley elected me to the School Board, I was charged with advocating for public education. And if there was ever a time our local schools needed advocacy, it is now. As you know, our state of California, is remarkable in many ways. But unfortunately one way California is remarkable is in its lack of support for funding public education. California ranks almost dead last – 49th out of 50 states – in how much it spends per student on education. And even then, the state doesn’t pay the full bill, withholding funds through differrals, and when the State finally does pay, it pays late, putting a severe cash squeeze on schools. When the voters demand the State make good on its education responsibilities through Proposition 98, even that gets ignored, to the point where several organizations are currently suing the State to force it to meet its education obligations. Its a tough time for education – the worst since the Great Depression.

And yet despite these challenges, our local schools in Big Bear, our teachers, administrators, and staff, they do an extraordinary job under challenging circumstances. We have wonderful teachers and distinguished schools. This year Big Bear High School was 1 of just 2 high schools in all of San Bernardino County to receive distinguished school status. We have remarkable students and graduates. Maybe you noticed one or two in the Olympics or on top of Mount Everest. Chances are you, your family, or someone you know have benefitted from our Schools. Bear Valley Unified School District is one of the Valley’s largest employers, and frankly an important part of what makes our Valley the very special place it is.

Every year we ask our teachers to do more, and lately with less. But they have to, WE have to, keep teaching. Because public education is important, critically important. Education provides opportunity to children who otherwise would go without. Education makes better informed citizens. Education reduces crime. Education helps make sure that the doctor who takes care of you, the policeman who protects you, and the fireman who saves you, are all competent and capable. Education is always in our best interest.

Which is why I hope you will Join me, my fellow board members Bev Grabe, Ken Turney, Al Waner, and Paul Zamoyta, and our Superintendent Kurt Madden, in supporting our schools and our students. Please, visit a school, volunteer in a classroom, come to a Board meeting, or come to a student play or an athletic event. Come help us help our students. Thanks for listening.

Randy’s Education Links

December 11th, 2011

Some of my favorite links collected during my recent travels on the BVUSD School Board:

  • Jamie Vollmer – I had the opportunity to hear him speak live to thousands of California School Board members in San Diego and found his message to be the most motivating to date. His list of  The Ever Increasing Burden on America’s Public Schools really drives the point home. Watch Jamie’s CSBA presentation here.
  • To Those Who Would Lead – A manifesto of sorts that does a good job of summarizing and contextualizing education, technology, and the 21st Century.
  • Saddleback iEngage – Fellow Board Member Paul Zamoyta arranged for a question and answer session with a couple of Saddleback teachers who were doing some impressive things with iPod carts in their classrooms, further underlining the huge opportunity before us. Also see a related article about how iPods help ESL students in Escondido.
  • The Kahn Academy – Another innovation in education with great potential that demonstrates how technology can better serve our learning minds. I enjoyed  hearing Sal sharing his remarkable story live at the 2011 CSBA Conference.

A Sincere Thank You

November 7th, 2008

Put a Putz in OfficeA sincere thank you to the many supporters who helped elect me to the Bear Valley Unified School Board. I want you to know that I’m excited about the challenges and opportunities ahead and will make good use of the responsibility the public has entrusted to me. As I have witnessed first-hand, our Valley’s schools are blessed with many fine educators and staff, and I look forward to helping them make sure we continue to put the needs of our children first and make our already distinguished schools even better.

CongratsAnother heartfelt thank you goes to my fellow candidates who cared enough to run: Sharon Congdon, David Foltz, Jim McGowan, and Richard Weathersbee. The quality and quantity of candidates makes me proud of our Valley, and I hope each will still put their skills and experience to work for the benefit of our children. Congratulations are in order to Paul Zamoyta and Bev Grabe on their successful bids and with whom I look forward to serving along with continuing Board Members Ken Turney and Debra Sarkisian. Last but not least, I want to acknowledge the service of our departing School Board trustees, Phil Hamilton, Larry Poland, and Julann Warren. My own children’s extraordinary experience in our Schools is in no doubt due to the hard work of many caring individuals throughout our District, like them, who have come before me. As Superintendent Ferraud said, we have big shoes to fill. And I am grateful for that.

Please continue to let me know what about our schools is important to you.

Election Results

November 4th, 2008

rov_header_small.jpgAssuming you have already voted, here’s a link to San Bernardino County Election Results: www.sbcounty.gov/rovelectionresults/. To see the School Board race, click on Schools, and then Bear Valley Unified. They will start posting results around 8:30pm PST. First they post absentee ballots, then precincts ballots as they come in throughout the night. Election results aren’t officially certified until December 1.

3 things that make Randy a unique School Board candidate

October 22nd, 2008

Bear Valley FansSeveral people have asked what makes me unique as a School Board candidate. Here’s a few of them:

1. I currently have children in our School District. My daughter and son started in Big Bear Elementary and now are at Big Bear High. As a parent, I have a current perspective and first-hand knowledge of the impact our schools make on children and their families.

2. I am not retired and I am not an ex-educator. All of the other candidates running are one or the other, and many are both. My background is in business, communications and technology, which gives me a breadth of real-world experience I think will be refreshing and helpful on a well-balanced School Board.

3. I am strong in technology. I’ve bought, taught, fixed, and made technology solutions for many different organizations for many years. I understand computers, and the important role they play in preparing our children for careers after graduation. My technology expertise will helpful to our District as we increase technology proficiency among our educators and students.

Endorsements: A Broad Base of Support

October 21st, 2008

Thumbs UpIt’s always better when someone else says it, and I would encourage others to talk to some of these people to see why they think I would be a good choice for School Board. I am fortunate to have a broad base of community support including:

Bob Angilella
Craig & Jeannie Antes
Ashley Arden
Senator Jim Battin
Cassy & Rich Benson
Gary Berwin
Erin & Tim Brigham
John & Teri Brisson
Kathy Campbell
Julie & Rob Carpenter
Ken Dally
Joelle & John DeLandtsheer
Heather & Ted Devito
Senator Bob Dutton
Malissa Parker Forry
Tina Fraynd
Jim & Trish Gordon
John & Julie Grandi
Gen & Gunny Gunnarson

Joe Haeckel
Mickey Hall
Phil & Sue Hamilton
Liz Harris
Derek Hermon
Steve & Shelli Hirschler
Rebecca Hrabia
Chuck Hulett
Sean & Suzie Jacques
Bill & Mary Jo Jahn
Michael Karp
Gary Keller
Dottie & Tony Kerst
Dick Kun
David Leach
John Levy
Karen Lundgren
Dan McKernan
Sarah Miggins
Stan Miller
Carol Mulvihill
Gina Olvera
Michael & Tanya Perry
Kenny & Sandie Proctor
Monique Rangel
Theresa Reagan-Blood
Chris Riddle
Lisa Rigdon
Sharon & Jay Rizzo
Paul Romero
Janine & Peter Sutherland
Jose Tapia
Dennis Thomas
Brent & Bonnie Tregaskis
Al & Jo Anne Waner
Julann Warren
Tim & Tyler Wood

Why I Run… for School Board

September 20th, 2008

I get this question a lot: Why do you want to be on the School Board?

Easy – I have had an extraordinary experience in our School District with my children and I want to help make sure that same kind of inspiring experience continues to grow for other children and their families.

As a parent, it is quite something to pick up your teenage daughter after school and have her gush about what a great day she had, how much she loves her teachers, and how much she enjoys learning in school. And have that be a regular occurrence.

Or have your son, who flirted with Ds and Fs in Middle School, get inspired by a teacher who helps uncover a passion that propels him to As and Bs. And more importantly, have that inspiration change his focus from what trade he would consider after high school, to what college is best to pursue a career in astrophysics and a dream of traveling to Mars in 2030.

My family has been fortunate enough to have experienced these kind of life-altering experiences because of our Valley’s schools and teachers. I simply want to do my part to help make sure other families have the same or better experience. I appreciate your vote and support to help me do that.

2008 Bear Valley Unified School District Board Candidates

Is more School Accountability better?

August 29th, 2008

ed_gl_nclb_logo.gifLast night I was watching the news and saw some excerpts from Barrak Obama’s nomination speech. He said he wanted more people to go to college. I think that is great. He said he wants to hire more teachers. That’s good. And give teachers more pay. That’s fine, too, assuming he has a plan to pay for all of it. He also said he wants more accountability from teachers. That made me stop and think. Hmmm.

I bet most Americans would echo the cheers of Obama’s crowd and be in favor of increased accountability for our educators. After all it is our money, a huge chunk of our money, that goes to education. Half of the California State Budget goes to education. Over $50 billion each year, that’s billion with a “B”, in a State that would be the 7th largest country in the world if it stood alone. Education is a huge business in California with many dollars at stake. So with numbers like that, why wouldn’t we as taxpayers want more accountability?

In my efforts to serve our children and community as a prospective School Board member, I have been talking to a lot of people, many of which are educators. And I’ve heard rumblings and grumblings over current accountability issues, with some going so far as to say that the “emphasis on accountability and testing has taken the joy out of teaching.” Is that true? Perhaps we should hang on just a second when suggesting increased accountability.

Briefly, and without going into too much history, here’s my understanding of the looming accountability crisis. Yes, crisis, because it’s that big a deal. Prior to 1998, teachers in California schools had, within reason, free reign to teach however they wanted. A school district would adopt certain curriculum via published text book materials and teachers would follow those materials as they saw fit. Other than some inconsistent school and district-level efforts, there wasn’t any state-wide testing coordinated with universal academic standards to insure consistent student proficiency.

In 1998 California started moving towards state-wide testing and measuring of academic performance. Then in 2002 came No Child Left Behind (NCLB), a Federal education initiative with bi-partisan support who’s goal was to provide education accountability and proficiency by tying performance standards to Federal funding. Individual states were free to adopt standards, even define these standards for their own schools. But they had to put in measured accountability if they wanted to continue to receive the significant Federal money. Like other states, California set their own standards and participated in NCLB, which included certain penalties if a school or District did not meet State standards of student proficiency.

Today, academic proficiency of California schools is measured two ways: the API (Academic Performance Index) is the state measure, and the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) is the Federal NCLB measure. Both rely on input from the California Standards Tests that our children take each year. Perhaps you have noticed increased emphasis on these annual tests, and for good reason. The AYP has significant consequences for failure to make established targets.

It is important to understand that the “corrective action” required for low-performing schools can have significant impact on that school’s students, educators, and District. Corrective action redirects funds and resources in an already strained District budget. In moderate cases, districts can be forced to pay for extra tutoring and to bus students to other schools. In extreme and extended cases, whole schools can be dismantled. I’ve heard from those who have been associated with a low-performing school on probation (termed “Program Improvement”) that “you don’t want to go there.”

It is also important to know that this required student proficiency level, as defined by the State of California, increases each year. By about 11%. And that’s where the crisis comes in. Right now for 2008, required proficiency levels are around 35%. That may sound low, but that figure is a complex issue in itself and includes English Language Learners and Special Ed students, which can have a significant impact on test scores. Many schools now struggle with proficiency, and even more will next year when the required level goes up to about 47%. By 2014, 100% of all students are expected to be proficient in Math and English no matter who they are, where they are, or where they came from.

It is interesting to note that while our Bear Valley Schools overall continue to perform very well based on our Valley’s demographics, the current method of measuring proficiency is catching up to us. Two of our District schools may have failed to reach the required proficiency growth targets this year. If they miss the same targets 2 years in a row, they will go into Program Improvement.

So what’s a District to do? In my opinion (and more importantly in the opinion of experts who’s careers center around this very issue) you do everything possible to stay off of probation and out of Program Improvement. You do that by insuring the necessary level of student learning that in turn produces the necessary test results. But you also rely on your skilled educators to creatively keep the joy in teaching and learning while moving students towards required proficiency. And you encourage those responsible for setting education policy at the State and Federal level to revamp the current system of accountability as soon as possible.

Increasing teacher accountability may sound good to Senator Obama on the campaign trail, but we already suffer from an unrealistic accountability system. Different accountability could be good, but I don’t think we need more of the same. Thoughts? Please let me know below.

Elect Putz Toolkit

August 21st, 2008

tool.jpgI am passionate about our schools and will bring a fresh, balanced direction to our District. I want to help our Valley’s children excel and look forward to serving our Community. But I can only do this if I get elected to the School Board, and I need your help for that to happen. Below are steps you can take if you’d like to help make a difference:

1.) Get others talking. Engage friends, family, and co-workers in constructive conversation about education. Ask them what they think about OUR schools, what they would like to see. This dialogue is good for the Community and important to our democratic process. For me personally, these connections one makes when interacting with others are most valuable.

2.) Share your support. If you believe I will make a difference, tell others! Better yet, show others: Wear a Putz button. Put a Putz yard sign in front of your house or business. Give out Putz for School Board literature. Give your endorsement. Join like-minded people and volunteer to help the campaign.

3.) Vote. Again, I can’t make a difference if we don’t win the vote. Encourage others to vote. If they are not registered, help get them registered, so they can VOTE. Register to vote by mail or read about other ways to get registered. I have registration forms as well.

4.) Donate. Even a modest campaign for local elected office is surprisingly expensive. If I am willing to volunteer for 4 years of public service, perhaps you’d be willing to part with a few dollars so you don’t have to. Your contribution is a nice way to say, “Better you than me.” :-) Your vote and your active endorsement are most valuable. But your financial support is extremely helpful and allows me to reach more people. Click here to donate now online using your credit card or check. You can also send checks to: Committee to Elect Randall Putz, PO Box 1625, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315.

Interested? Leave a private comment below, call me at 909-752-5342, or email me at randy ( a t ) randallputz.com.
– Randy

Schools, Technology & Me

August 10th, 2008

digi_apl.jpgMany different organizations over many years have paid me to help them figure out solutions to their technology problems. I’ve written about and presented technology so that others may better understand it. I’ve taught technology at the elementary and college levels so that others may learn it. I get technology. And I have a special appreciation not only for the importance of technology today, but the vital role it will play in the future, especially for our children.

Kids need a command of basic computer technology, just as they need a command of basic math and english. Children who suffer through inadequate and outdated computer equipment and infrastructure might as well be without pencils and paper. It is that important, because the world’s increasing reliance on technology makes it that important. As a School District, we have an obligation to prepare our children with proper technology skills and support them with quality equipment and instruction. Anything less is a disservice.

I know Mike Chatham, with assistance from others in the District, is working on a comprehensive technology plan that he will soon present to the School Board. It is my expectation the plan, at a minimum, will address ever-evolving equipment needs, accommodate growing bandwidth requirements, and embrace both student and teacher proficiency standards. I also hope the current Board will demonstrate its commitment to technology by adopting and funding the plan.

As a prospective School Board member, I will look forward to paying especially close attention to the way our schools address technology education and will do my part to insure our children are well-equipped for a digital future.

Randy’s Background

August 8th, 2008

Randy races mountain bikesIf you are curious, a short bio on me:

I was raised in Santa Barbara, California, gained my secondary education at Cate School in Carpinteria, and graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism in 1985.

After college I caught the entrepreneur bug and started a small chain of printing businesses in San Diego County, which introduced me to desktop publishing and revealed a knack for computers. My interest in technology blossomed at the same time as the Internet did in the 1990s and ultimately led me to a Director of Technology position in a large Nevada-based marketing communications firm, and then on to my own technology consulting firm.

For the last 14 years, I have focused on providing technology solutions and services for corporate and government clients. By combining my diverse management skills, extensive technical background, and marketing insight, I have been able to help companies leverage their technology investment through increased profitability and productivity. I have assisted many organizations large and small, including such notables as the State of Nevada, the City of Las Vegas, Cisco Systems, the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, and our local Big Bear Mountain Resorts. Recently I started Gobo LLC, a marketing technology business specializing in promoting businesses online in unique ways.

I have a teenage son and daughter who started in Big Bear Elementary and currently attend Big Bear High. Over the years I have actively volunteered in my children’s various classrooms and have taught after-school computer classes to elementary students, as well as college-level technology classes. Most recently I helped plan and build the Move A Million Miles for Ryan Hall campaign to support our local Olympic Marathoner. I’m an avid runner and cyclist and especially enjoy trail running and mountain biking in our surrounding National Forest.

Candidate’s Statement

August 8th, 2008

election08.jpgThe following Candidate’s Statement will appear in the Voter’s Guide that comes out in October:

Candidate for the Office of: Board Member, Bear Valley Unified School District
Name: Randall Putz
Age: 45
Occupation: Business Owner/Parent

“As a parent of two Big Bear High School students, I have witnessed first-hand the impact dedicated educators can have on children, our community, and our future. I am proud of the vital role our distinguished schools play in our very special community, and I passionately support our schools’ success.

This passion for quality education, combined with my extensive real-world experience, uniquely qualifies me to serve on our School Board. My business skills, parenting, and volunteerism all provide a fresh and well-rounded perspective that I believe benefits our School District.

As a School Board member, I best represent the interests of our community by listening and being accessible to all parents, educators, and residents, by ensuring responsible use of our tax dollars, and by supporting actions that put the needs of our children first.

I appreciate your vote, your trust, and your supporting our schools’ success.”

Run, Randy, Run (for School Board)

August 8th, 2008

Randy Putz for School BoardIt’s official – after swearing to defend the constitution against all enemies and paying $403 for a candidate’s statement, I’ve filed to run for a seat on the Bear Valley Unified School District Board of Education in the upcoming November ’08 election. With the encouragement and support of many friends and family, I’m looking forward to the experience. Running for public office is new to me, but I’m optimistic my life’s experience so far has given me the tools necessary to win a seat, and more importantly, do a good job helping out our already distinguished schools.