Michael Scott

Spotlight on the Candidates: SSUSD Board of Education

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Michael Scott“We all have a vested interest in our schools, whether we have kids in school or not. We all want kids to succeed, because I see the ones that don’t,” said Michael Scott, one of three incumbents running for two seats on the Sierra Sands Unified School District Board of Education. He has been on the board for 16 years.

In his day job, Scott is a sergeant with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

“I’m in a very unique position with my job,” he said. “It brings me into contact with both schools and the community. I work hand in hand with Child Protective Services, all the social services and disaster preparedness as well. I embrace that role.”

Scott has been on the advisory committee for the Burroughs High School Regional Occupational Program, on the board for Teen Court, and has experience with union affairs.

“I was a two-term president for the Police Employees Association of Ridgecrest. I see both sides of a negotiation.” He served with the Ridgecrest Police Department for 19 years before going to the Sheriff’s Office, where he has been for 11 years.

“All of this together gives me a wealth of knowledge about what’s going on in schools and the community.”

He sees finances as the greatest challenge to the school district — “in this district as well as every other district in this state. I truly believe the governor is holding us hostage. If Proposition 30 doesn’t pass, we’re going to be in severe difficulty. Our financial situation will suffer, just like every other school district in California.”

Scott added that he is actively endorsing Proposition 30. “If it doesn’t pass, our financial team is putting together different scenarios and what we’ll need to do to stay solvent,” he said.

While the district is currently solvent, other state and federal factors could change that quickly.

During the time he has served on the board, his most important contributions have included participation in class size reduction, award-winning schools, over $1 million for modernization of schools, and the new Career Technology and Education building at Burroughs High School.

“We have maintained and increased our reserve from 3 percent to 5 percent, which is really helping us in this current financial crunch. That was foresight on the part of the district and the board. They saw there were going to be tough times ahead and prepared for it. Other districts in the state are laying off people and cutting programs now. We have done much better than most,” said Scott.

Among the projects he’d like a chance to see finished are continuing the modernizations and getting the federal funding to work on a relocated Murray Middle School. “I’d like to see us get out of this financial mess we’re in, to get back and restore all the programs that had to be cut, like fine arts and music.”

Scott and his wife Karen have been married 17 years. They have three children, all of whom have graduated from public schools. Linsy is a state licensed dental hygienist, Ryan works at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in radar and telemetry and Anastazia has just started classes at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Scott first got the idea to run for the board after teaching the DARE program. “After I finished a class that went really well, I mentioned that to the teacher. She said it was flu season and not all the students were there. Then I learned about class size reduction and realized how important this is. That was 1996.

“I ran that year and have been on the board ever since.”

Story First Published: 2012-09-26