BRAWLEY — Brawley Elementary School District Board of Trustees seats are on the election ballot this year with three seats open and six candidates vying for them. Newcomers Ron Amidon, Luis Barrera, and Ruben Villa face incumbents Esther Sanchez-Banda, Cesar Guzman, and Kathy Prior.

Board Trustee Guzman, who has served for 45 years at BESD, said this will be his “last dance” running for school board and will retire in 2024, if re-elected.

Candidates all stated they are ready to get to work for the betterment and futures of the students at BESD.

“I’m here to enhance student learning by providing academic support that will prepare them for the next level of education,” said Banda. “As my grandchildren attend BESD, I have vested interest in seeing our school district be the best in the Valley for all students.”

Guzman said, “I say, let's keep doing what we have being doing. We had great results in the last four years.”

“We need to focus on our students' success academically and personally. That is why we are here,” said Amidon. “Expectations clearly established by the district for the students, parents, teachers, and administration so all are on the same page.”

Jose Luis Barrera is a Brawley Union High School math and computer science teacher who seeks to help students achieve academic success. His campaign promise is to “put students first” by working with the schools and community to better improve their chances at success.

“I vow to relentlessly seek and ensure the academic needs of our students are met year in and year out for the betterment of our future,” says Barrera’s campaign page on Facebook.

Ruben Villa is a security guard, coach, and class advisor at Brawley Union High School, dedicated to helping students succeed, not only academically but also athletically. Villa said he has always had a strong sense of duty to community.

“I will make sure that resources and opportunities are provided to students and staff,” said Villa. “I will also assist in programs and activities that occur on campuses.”

All candidates said they want to keep BESD’s academic success going, especially with the extra stress on teachers from distance learning.

Amidon, Banda, Guzman, and Prior said the schools need to continue using what they can to provide students with a good education.

“Especially now with the pandemic, teachers are our priority,” said Banda. “We need to fully support and make sure they have all the tools needed for distance learning.”

Guzman said the district has four good years of success, pointing out that the district is strongest in the County in English and mathematics among English Learners. Guzman suggested BESD should build a family center much like the centers in El Centro and Calexico to help improve parent involvement in the district.

Amidon’s vision is a bit different. As a teacher of 30 years in the BESD district, he said he has seen obstacles that need to be overcome, such as low morale due to what he said is lack of respect among district personnel, as well as a lack of putting students first when it comes to district budget. COVID has added another layer to this and Amidon said the district will need to get creative to ensure teacher and student success.

“Continue providing technology that can help personalize student academic needs and success,” said Amidon. “We need to ensure that the teacher provides the direct instruction regardless if the student is at home or in the classroom. I definitely encourage our district administration to be patient with our teachers and provide assistance where applicable, considering the obstacles the COVID-19 has caused.”

Regarding the future middle school, BESD has already purchased and set aside the land and has since been working to build a 6 through 8 grade school to address overcrowding in the district.

Prior, Banda, and Guzman were on the board when the land was purchased and all three, including Amidon, acknowledge the district needs to get the plans for the school back on track. Guzman is sure it will happen within the next two years.

“Overcrowding is an issue at this time,” said Prior, who has continually asked for updates on the new school. “Right now, it is a waiting game.”

Amidon agrees that Brawley needs a new school, adding his personal experience as a teacher at Barbara Worth for 11 years.

County wide elections including BESD Board elections will be held on November 3.

(1) comment


Regarding overcrowding issues at BESD. In early 2017 a meeting was held at BESD community center to discuss school boundaries in order to address overcrowding at the elementary schools. At that meeting Asst. Supt. stated that even after a new middle school was built, overcrowding would not be eliminated. No significant decisions were made to address overcrowding at that time. In January of 2018 BESD convened an advisory committee of some 20 participants from the community to discuss overcrowding and come up with solutions suggestions for the board. It came to light that their was money allocated, blue prints created for an elementary school to be located in the north end of Brawley. The committee met several times and issued a recommendation to the board to follow through with building a school in the north property. Nothing came of all those meetings and discussions. Here we are 4 years later. Each year the board has kicked this issue down the road to let someone else fix it. Here we are 4 years later with still no Middle school in sight to be built. Here we are with no concrete short term or long term plan to alleviate school overcrowding. Yet candidates acknowledge that this issue exists. This is outrageous that the last school that was built was 60 years ago. School cafeterias can only hold maybe 200 students on campuses with 800-900 students. Unacceptable. Why is this on anybody's platform?

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