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Paula Truelock runs against incumbent Brent Lee for RUSD Trustee Area 5

Candidates share their vision for Area 5, Thoughts on Measure O

Note: Brent and Ana Lee were the Presenting Sponsors of The Raincross Gazette’s web launch in March of 2022. Paula Truelock declined to provide a photo for this story.

There are two candidates running for Riverside Unified School District Board Area 5: incumbent Brent Lee, who has been serving on the board since 2013, and Paula Truelock.

Area 5 covers the following schools: Central Middle School, John Adams Elementary School, Madison Elementary School, Magnolia Elementary School, Mt. View Elementary School, Pachappa Elementary School, Ramona High School, Riverside Adult School, Sierra Middle School, and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.

Each candidate shared their vision for Area 5, as well as their thoughts on Measure O, which provides for school facility improvement projects. Measure O was approved in 2016 by more than two-thirds of voters and it generates $392 million to improve and build new facilities.

Brent Lee

Brent and his wife Ana are products Riverside Unified schools. He attended Washington Elementary, Gage Middle School and Poly High School. He is a graduate from the University of San Diego and he obtained his Masters in Business Administration from UC Riverside. He is the Managing Broker and co-owner of Windermere Tower Properties. Brent and his wife Ana of 14 years are the parents of three children, Henry, Felix and Amelia-Bea.

Amongst other involvements Brent serves on the board of directors for Big Brother Big Sisters of the Inland Empire and is the co-founder of the Pick Group of Young Professionals. He is on the board of directors for the UC Riverside Alumni Board and is a member of the California Baptist Dean’s Advisory Council where he and his wife Ana created an endowed scholarship fund to support a graduate student in the College of Behavioral and Social Science who is looking to serve students in our local school system. Brent has previously served as a board member on the Chamber of Commerce, an appointee of the City’s Charter Review Committee, and board member to YWCA of Riverside County, International Relations Council, International Film Festival, Evergreen Memorial Historic Cemetery.

Why did you choose to run for RUSD?

As a lifelong Riverside resident, business owner and parent to three Riverside Unified students, I offer a unique and valuable perspective on our Board of Education. I am deeply committed to my community and invested in the long-term success of Riverside. RUSD is an extraordinary district that has the capacity to continue to improve and be the premier district in Southern California. When I was first elected to serve I was motivated by two main factors. First, as a residential real estate broker I know the importance great schools have on creating great neighborhoods and thriving communities. I would often hear from professionals relocating to our area that they were concerned about our schools based on the research they had done online. Second, it is imperative to have school board members who have students in the district. I see how the decisions of the district affect schools, educators, students, and their families on a daily basis. This experience allows me to make better informed decisions for the benefit of all our students and our staff. Serving on the Board of Education over the last nine years has been incredibly rewarding and I look forward to serving another four years.

What is the greatest challenge for RUSD at this time and how will you approach it if elected?

Ensuring that all our students have the resources and support to meet and exceed the grade level standards in every classroom across the district is the greatest challenge facing districts across California. Prior to the pandemic RUSD was making great progress towards mastering grade level standards. Unfortunately, when California closed schools to in person learning and students were forced to distance learning many of them fell behind. As we rally back from the pandemic, our students need more resources, support and top-quality instruction than ever before. If re-elected, I will continue to invest in retaining and attracting the best educators for our classrooms. I will prioritize our Professional Growth System model that provides a mentor teacher for every new educator to the profession and to our district. I will invest in enrichment experiences to create better engagement in the classroom. Hands on experiences such as visual and performing arts, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and career education pathways that prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.

How do you measure the success of Measure “O” which was a school bond approved by the voters in 2016.

RUSD is over 100 years old and we have aging facilities that need upgrading and modernization. The $392 million plus will be used to improve student safety, security, for repair and upgrades of existing facilities and to build new facilities, science labs, and career technical education spaces to enrich the student experience. RUSD has already wisely invested Measure O funds to make campuses safer, build modern Pre-K and Kindergarten wings at multiple campuses, upgrade play equipment and outdoors spaces, athletic facilities, ADA improvements, CTE spaces, and more. The Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee has overseen the spending of Measure O funds to ensure they satisfy the requirements of Proposition 39. I am hopeful that we can leverage our investment with an additional $200M when the state passes a bond. RUSD has more than $1.5B in facility needs so future bonds will be needed to reach all of our facility needs. I am confident when the time comes our community will again invest in our schools and pass another bond at a future date.

Paula Truelock

Paula Truelock is the mother of three adult children, all of whom attended Riverside Unified School District school, and the grandmother of several grandchildren, one of whom currently attends RUSD schools. She is happily married to her husband Rick. Paula has lived in Riverside her entire life and attended RUSD schools for a portion of her education, including high school and graduation. She was a stay-at-home mom until her youngest child started high school. In 2007 she began working for her father’s business. In 2020 she left the family business and now works in customer service for Fritts Ford.

Why did you choose to run for RUSD board?

Board members need to make sure the district is responsive to the values and priorities of the community that elected them, and not to Sacramento. My goal is to bring more diverse academic opportunities for our children. While the district boasts a 96% graduation rate, only 50% meet the A-G requirements for college admission, and only 30% are proficient in math. We must do better and our RUSD families deserve that we do better. I want to advocate for our students and parents and remind them that they have a voice on the board. I will listen to and address their concerns.

What is the greatest challenge for RUSD at this time and how will you approach it if elected?

Based on the district numbers I have reviewed; I find that the greatest challenge facing RUSD is addressing the almost two years of learning loss. RUSD was at 36% and 51% proficiency in math & ELA respectively, prior to Covid and we have now dropped to 30% and 46% post-Covid. The district was granted $151,000,000 in ESSER funds to address some of these concerns. The focus on their spending priorities appears to be on social and emotional supports for students, when the districts own numbers show that most kids are low risk when screened for social and emotional issues. These interventions should be available for kids that need them, but the focus should be in addressing the 70% of students that are not proficient in math and the 54% that are not proficient in ELA. RUSD has the funding to address the issues, however they are not making it a priority based on their budget and I would.

How do you measure the success of Measure O which was a school bond approved by the voters in 2016?

Measure O was presented to the voters as a bond measure to improve aging schools. I believe many positive improvements have been made. Campuses have been made more accessible for special needs students, additional classrooms have been added, and overall, many schools have been improved structurally and aesthetically. My concern regarding Measure O is that not all schools will receive the improvements they need. Instead, the district has chosen to allocate funds for four new schools amid consistent declining enrollment.

November 8 Election

RUSD Board of Education elections will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The last day to register to vote is Monday, October 24. For more information on how to vote, to register to vote, and other important dates and information, you may visit the Riverside County Registrar of Voters website.

For more information on the RUSD Board of Education, including a trustee area map, you may visit the RUSD board website. For a detailed map of Area 5, click here.

For more information on Measure O, visit the Measure O page on the RUSD website.