Autumn Ellenson, Candidate Lakeside Union School District

Autumn Ellenson

*Trustee Don Whisman was appointed to the LUSD in June 2021 to replace vacated former trustee Rhona Taylor who became the LUSD superintendent. His term is up in November 2022.

Autumn Ellenson, 52,
Teacher school administrator
Candidate Lakeside Union School District

Why are you running for school board?

I am running for school board because as a mother of three students in the district, and as a Lakeside resident, I have a vested interest that they are receiving the best, high-quality education possible. I want to reflect the values of our small community by implementing and supporting common-sense policies that help our students.
I believe that the best place for our students to get an excellent education is in the classroom interacting with their teachers and peers, and free from physical barriers.

What are your top three priorities if elected?

1. Student Safety: Keeping our children safe at school is the most important issue. I will work to ensure that campuses are secure, and support more law enforcement on campus.
2. Transparent Communication with Families: I believe that all parents should feel supported and that district communication is transparent.
3. Student Achievement: We have some of the best programs in the entire state, including creative arts, language immersion and science. I want to ensure that students are excelling in these programs while also closing the learning gaps suffered over the past three years.

With studies showing students are behind due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what would you do on the policy level in ensuring students behind are able to catch up?

In order to ensure that students have the support they need, our policies should reflect a Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS). These include having a clear Response to Intervention (RTI) or other similar plan in place to identify struggling students as early as possible to provide the unique support they need.
In addition, policies need to ensure that teachers and other staff members have the support needed to implement interventions to help all students.

Are you a proponent of armed teachers in classrooms as a way of addressing school safety for students, parents, and staff?

I think that everyone in our country has the right to defend themselves, and my top priority is student safety. I would work alongside the other board members to ensure that our campuses are secure, and to have more resource officers on campus. The issue of armed teachers is a state level decision.

How can the district support homeless students?

The biggest educational hurdle for homeless students is chronic absenteeism. Children need to be in the classroom in order to learn. I would support policies that help get our students into the classroom. That way they can be successful to overcome current and future obstacles, ending the homelessness cycle.

Under what circumstances is it appropriate to ban books from school classrooms and libraries?

I support both freedom of speech and parents’ rights to decide what is best for their own children. In my school administration position, I work with families to provide alternative resources for their students that do not want their child exposed to certain books.

What past board efforts would you amplify or grow, and are there any which you would phase out?

I would like to partner with fellow board members to develop a career-readiness program for our students. Not all students thrive in the same environment, and have different career paths that they will find success in. All students will need support finding the path that will help them become contributing members of the community.

What policies or processes would you propose to support student life such as anti-bullying training, efforts to reduce student vaping and drug use, and extracurricular events?

The safety of our students is my highest priority. The district has an extensive anti-bullying policy in place. I would work to ensure that the policy is being put into practice at our school sites so that all students feel safe.
I am in support of after-school curricular activities and clubs since they can be a positive way for our students to spend time in the afternoon. I am in support of the district updating its after-school club application process to make it more accessible for different organizations to offer extracurricular activities.
I also fully support any efforts by our district to help reduce vaping and drug use through the implementation of programs that have been proven to work, including anti-vape policies (which are in place), education for staff and students, and other measures that have reliable results.

Lakeside Union is well-known for its multi-language immersion and STEAM programs. Do you feel there is equity to these programs throughout the district, and if not, what would you propose to give all students access to these programs?

Our district’s excellent programs were what prompted me to transfer my children to this district. I do feel that there is equity to the various programs offered in the district. While not every program is offered at every school, students have equal access to any program that they are interested in.

What is it that makes the Lakeside Union School District special to you, and why?

I have long admired the Lakeside Union School District because of the excellent programs offered in the district. As soon as my children could attend preschool, I chose to put them here in the district. I was wholly impressed with the program and have kept them here ever since.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find out what excellent science and creative arts programs we have access to in the district.
In addition, I feel that the amazing staff care equally about our children’s education as they do about them becoming stewards in the community.