Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Alexia Palacios-Peters Delves Into Bid for CUSD Board

Alexia Palacios-Peters
Lawyer, educator as well as military spouse and mother Alexia Palacios-Peters is running for the Coronado Unified School District Governing Board.

Alexia Palacios-Peters has been considering running for the Coronado Unified School District Governing Board for over five years, attending trainings and preparing.

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A government attorney who works remotely, Palacios-Peters has a husband who is active duty in the Navy and nearing retirement — they recently bought a home in Coronado — and they have three children (one going into second grade, one entering fifth and one rising eighth-grader).

Palacios-Peters shared that being a military spouse with deployments fresh for her and her family is significant to her potential role in educational leadership on the island.

“You have a different perspective when it’s present,” she said of military life.

When asked how she manages her different demands, she said: “I’m a great multi-tasker” and can compartmentalize.

If elected to the board, Palacios-Peters would be the only member who is currently an active duty military spouse. With children in the schools, she said she also feels qualified because of her background in education. She was a teacher with a degree in elementary education before pursuing law school. And both her parents taught.

“I’m also an attorney who can read and understand the different laws and policies governing our school board and our district,” she said, adding that her focus is the best interest of students, collaboration with teachers and transparency with the community.

Palacios-Peters shared the top three district issues to her and how she would approach tackling them. The first issue she described is the budget and basic aid.

“There’s always trying to get enough funding and trying to do more,” she said. “I’d like to get into the budget and see exactly what we’re doing with the funds.”

The teacher-turned-lawyer said budget cuts and trims are always difficult; those are tough decisions and something board members have to face and don’t earn any friends on.

“We can’t get ourselves in debt,” she said. “What are other ways we can bring money in?”

When asked if the school district leasing space to the NASNI child development center was a good idea, she said it should be a great addition for the district — bringing in revenue to help bridge budget gaps.

“It’s still access to education even though it’s not for everyone,” she said. “But those people are part of the community.”

Palacios-Peters discussed a second issue: “We do need to address the racial equity going on right now.”

“There are people in the community trying to be heard,” she said. “We need to make sure they’re heard, and we need to take a critical look at the district and schools — make sure we know what’s happening. We don’t want to knee-jerk but we also don’t want to say ‘that doesn’t happen here.’ I think we need to dive in.”

The candidate illustrated how students leave Coronado to attend college, work and travel. She believes part of the district’s job is to prepare students to go out, and bring back experiences.

Palacios-Peters’ reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement student-led march and petition on Coronado was positive. She was impressed by the amount of participation, she said.

“It’s great the students felt safe and empowered that they could go and do that,” she said. “It takes a lot of strength and power to get out there as a student and organize something. I would hope the district and school board heard their voices. And ultimately our job is to educate our children and keep them in a safe learning environment.

“I was proud of our community and our children that they put something together and advocated peacefully for what they wanted … They gave their stories. That’s what we learn from the great protesters.”

Palacios-Peters highlighted how around the country, training and curriculum are being developed to address school diversity and inclusion. She discussed putting together a committee to review items coming out, drawing on professionals’ expertise and research.

“Any elected position, you’re not going to know everything about everything,” she said. “You reach out … We need to do better. And we can always do better.”

On increasing diversity among employees and students, Palacios-Peters said the district can look at widening and elaborating on recruitment practices (often at no additional cost), from how teachers and staff are being sought out to marketing CoSA (Coronado School of the Arts) and examining admittance.

Hearing from former students lately about their experiences in Coronado and elsewhere have been especially insightful for her, she added.

“We need to foster cultural humility,” she shared of what she’s learned about the issue nationwide. “If we assume there is no racism here, are we preparing our students?”

The third issue Palacios-Peters explored was distance learning and how it’s every parent’s concern, filled with questions about the technology logistics as well as related to parents’ work, multiple children, parents operating alone and what’s best for students.

“Hopefully it’s not a long-term problem but that’s out of our hands,” she said, and that going forward it will take constant evaluation and tweaking. “If something’s not working, we should be asking how can we fix this … We need to be consistent but also flexible.”

When asked about getting students back in the classroom sooner rather than later, she said: “I feel like everybody; there’s no good decision. You just have to pick the lesser of two evils. It comes down to what safety measures are put in place because everyone wants their kids back in school. Our kids are going to want to go back to school.”

“Especially for parents who are working, we need to make arrangements,” she stated. “How are we going to do this? How is the school day is going to look? When are our kids supposed to be on? What does it look like when not on? How do we turn stuff in? Is there going to be a trial run or 2-3 weeks of baptism by fire?”

She mentioned the ominous images of crowded high school hallways. She noted children with special needs not being able to use masks. She spoke to how Coronado is fortunate in some ways being a smaller community with the added ability for perhaps outdoor classrooms given the weather. She remarked she was impressed with the teachers’ learning content last school year.

“At some point our numbers are going to come down,” she said. “I believe the district is already implementing things to get ready for that. I think that’s great.”

Palacios-Peters is curious about the plan and its transparency to the community. She knows people want to know what’s going on. She saw it with the decision to move the kindergarten location. Community transparency is very important to her.

When not focused on her responsibilities and running for school board, the military spouse and mom enjoys tennis, and her family used to love to go out to eat together on Friday nights. Since the pandemic, she has instituted Friday movie nights.

“I call it the Gilmore Girls style,” she said referring to the early 2000s TV show. “They would do their movie nights and a smorgasbord of a million things to eat. Popcorn with chocolate. Fruit like strawberries and bananas to dip in chocolate. Pizza.”

She described how they gather in the living room and often have a theme, like spaghetti if watching Lady and the Tramp. Or when the animated movie Ferdinand hit TV, they had Spanish tapas.

Visit vote4alexia.com to learn more about Palacios-Peters’ campaign before voting in the November 3rd election.

 

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Aly Lawson
Aly Lawson
Aly has a BA in mass communication, emphasizing journalism and public relations, and a MBA in marketing. She has worked as a reporter and marketer in various industries and overseas. She also won a best community business story award from the Nevada Press Association in 2017. Originally from Washington, this is her second time living in Coronado, where her husband is stationed as a Navy helicopter pilot. They have two small children and the whole family adores Coronado. Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: manager@coronadotimes.com
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