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Schools Candidate Dena Betti Lists Priorities

Patch has asked each of the five Martinez Unified school board candidates to name the top three issues facing the board in November.

Independent real estate appraiser and investor for ten years Dena Betti is one of five candidates vying for three seats on the Martinez Unified School District school board. Betti is president of the Morello Park Elementary School PTA and has served on the district facilities and Measure B committees. Two of her daughters attend Morello and her eldest daughter attends Martinez Junior High School.  

As school board member, Betti says she would promote an environment in which all stakeholders enjoy equal consideration and each student's academic and social development is supported in a fiscally prudent manner.

I believe that when people come together great things can happen.  I believe by getting involved and being creative, we can make our children’s educational experience innovative and rewarding. Let’s get someone on the board who understands our school’s day to day challenges; as parents, we live with these challenges every day through our children.  We need this perspective on the board.

1.  Keep a balance between the needs of our staff and the needs of our students.  

2.  Pursue the extension of our city's Parcel Tax. 

3.  As defined in the language of Measure K, we will need to work collectively to prioritize the "needs" of our district so we reach all students equally and invest the bond money in the most prudent and thoughtful way possible. 

What do you think the priorities for the Martinez Unified School District should be? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Chris Kapsalis August 30, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Enough with the parcel tax please!! Instead of using money so much try some imagination, volunteers, retired folks. Money is not the answer all the time to fix things. Property taxes are already hurting us bad. What is it now? I think $16,000 a year we pay. We pay our share already. No more please. You know many property owners like our family who own more than one parcel are not money rich and are hanging by a thread keeping our family land. We have 4 parcels. We are almost to the point of not being able to afford to keep this place we have had since the 20's.
maria Billingsley August 31, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I am happy to continue paying a parcel tax to help the school district. Both my children attended MTZ schools. What I would like in exchange is for the Alhambra Performing Arts Center to become more affordable to community groups. Our group in particular would flourish if this venue was within our reach. www.mtzo.com
Chris Kapsalis August 31, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Why not go after alcohol or fast food for this money. An automobile tax? Gas tax? People who own a boat? We have 4 parcels and are not money rich. Why is it fair game to tax property owners and not others equally? And it is not a so called sin to own property, it is a so called "sin" to drink or smoke or eat candy and so on. Soft drink tax? I would be all in favor of helping the school if it did not put us on the edge of not being able to afford our family land anymore. People are under the false impression that property owners are rich, and the more valuable the property, more parcels the richer they are. Keeping the land means never selling it, so no money, cept for us, three rents collected, do not even pay the prop taxes, upkeep and insurance to keep it. It is not fair as it stand. We need a break in property taxes. Like I said, please find the money from "sins" and also use more volunteers, retired people to help teach. Why not?
DeAnna Pruett September 01, 2012 at 01:02 AM
A vote in favor of the schools is an investment in the future of our community. Dena is a dedicated mother and member of the community with sincere intentions. She will definitely get my vote!
Chris Kapsalis September 01, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Much more propoerty taxes and our open space will have to be sold to developers. Unless we strike it rich, that is a simple truth. You can be in favor of schools and our future wihtout extending or increasing property taxes imo. A sin tax would be much more understandable. But probably not get the votes.
Noralea Giper September 01, 2012 at 04:49 AM
When my boys were going to the junior high, I asked the principal why parents could not set up working weekends to clean up the campus. Weeding, washing, etc. I was told the unions would not allow that all. At St. Catherine's, where the boys went to school first, all parents were required to help some how. It felt right, helping in the community that you are in. In public schools you are not allowed to do that. WOW
Chris Kapsalis September 01, 2012 at 12:37 PM
They complain about money all the time and say the kids suffer, yet do not take advantage of willing free volunteers to help teach or coach etc . Sometimes, but very rare. I found this on the field. And was told they are all volunteers, paid volunteers. Meaning, the adult coaches/staff volunteer to take that job for pay, or overtime/ This could save the school district a lot of money and ease up on taxes and other monies, yet possibly take away some work from a teacher. Even a teacher who is not working at the time. You cannot have it both ways, make up your mind. And yes they would have to go through the same background as any adult volunteer at the Boys/Girls club etc. I was told this at a school board meeting years ago, that I didn't understand. Yes I think I get it. It is all about union, $, benefits for teachers etc. or they would take advantage of this more. Takes a village?
Old Monnkey September 01, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Well you are partly right Chris; but have you considered the effect of taxing local businesses will decrease their business? Few Martinez residents work in our city, and can easily grab fast food, alcohol, and get their gas elsewhere on the way home. Instead of the microbrew down town keeping businesses, money and jobs in Martinez, they will go to Brew Brothers. I like downtown, but it needs many more high end establishments like them to make it successfull. I am no fan of Walmart, but going after them isn't smart either since it discourages other businesses from coming to Martinez. There are manay areas of our city that unlike downtown have easy freeway access that can attract commercial businesses. Freeway access can also attract more high end comercial distributers like Shields Harper, a new member of our business community who is much happier here than it was in Oakland.
Chris Kapsalis September 01, 2012 at 04:25 PM
How about a luxury tax of some kind then. Btw when we pay higher taxes rents have to be higher. That also effects the economy. I say share the burden.
George March September 02, 2012 at 09:43 PM
A question for Dena, Based on the text of Measure K and the assignment of needs by the current school board, what specific Measure K projects do you fully support?
Ron Skrehot September 07, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Hi Chris, OldMonnkey is right, taxing business, or their customers through items they sell, isn't the answer. The real issue here is that you and I are paying more taxes each year to the state and getting less and less returned to our local "State Governed Agencies". The school district is just one of those agencies. If the state fulfilled it's "promise to education" through Prop 98, we wouldn't need a parcel tax, maybe not even a bond measure. However the state doesn't provide enough money to build school facilities and infrastructure so the money has to come from somewhere. Taxing boat owners or gas or cigarettes wouldn't produce that kind of resource. Our schools are an asset to our community and have attracted people to live in Martinez for a long time. Assets require investment, just as your property does. Look at it as and extension of your property that might make it easier to sell should you ever decide to do that. Everybody living in Martinez lives on some sort of parcel so (with a few exceptions) the cost is spread evenly, whether they own or rent. I'm no fan of raising taxes but if the money stays local, it's better than giving it to the state and waiting to see what comes back. By the way, do you know what the annual budget of the school district is to operate?
Chris Kapsalis September 07, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Sorry Ron I disagree. A state wide sin tax for education would spread the pain around better than taxing property owners imo. And make a lot more sense.
Ron Skrehot September 07, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Well that hasn't worked so far. That's what I mean about statewide taxes, they get used "statewide". You never see significant local increases in what comes back. Doing the same things we have done in the past doesn't produce a different result. Do you know what the annual operating budget of the school district is? No sin tax would support that.
Chris Kapsalis September 07, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I read 68 billion a year when it is all added up. With about 4 million smokers and how many drinkers in CA, a dollar a pack tax and a tax on Beer and hard alcohol would go a long way. What we may need is a law that money raised by taxes for a certain thing must go to that thing. The CA lottery was supposed to help, but how much of that money actually went to education? You can try the same things sometimes with a few changes and get completely different results. I understand there is immediate crunches that we probably need to have parcel taxes for now. But in the future I think we could raise this money with sin taxes. We have to have a home. People do not need cigarettes and alcohol. We need money for education.
Ron Skrehot September 07, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Now that sounds more like long range planning, that's what we need. But that only works at the local level, not the state level in the current legislative environment. The parcel tax and the bond measure were local proactive responses to a reactive state government and it's inability to prioritize funding. Those two were the ones that looked like they had the best chance of dealing with unforseen cuts from the state. And you have to look at the local leadership support of those measures. Not all of the people representing the current board gave those measures their support. But had we not put those on the ballot when we did, MUSD could have been in state takeover as we write these messages. If the state prioritized funding for the different departments according to the amount of legislation that exists mandating those departments, education would get a much higher priority. But education in this state is slowly becoming an unfunded mandate and that is dangerous and our government doesn't care. And, as you said, all of the "special taxes" haven't gone to their respective designations. The lottery was a huge farce that was supposed to save education funding. Still wishful thinking on the part of our state leadership.
Dena September 20, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Hi George, Thank you for your question... With a strong facilities background and the passion to educate our society I have joined this race. The assessment of the district's facility "needs" is vital to establishing a prudent action plan. Next, we need to align our decisions with the mission set forth by our district's administration, staff and our city's stake holders. I read the dialog above and I think people are somewhat out of touch with how much effort, time, resources and money parents already give towards their children's public education. I truly feel and my life experiences have cemented my feelings that either we invest in education or we invest in public entitlement programs. To me....it's that simple. I want to be part of the solution...that's it. I want to roll-up my sleeves and be a "doer"....not a talker. There are so many talkers but not a lot of doers. When we have our volunteer days at the schools...it's so often the same people that stand up to help but yet the ones that have negative things to say don't come out to help, make change, or make a difference. That is what I'm about. I live by the mantra...."If not you...then who?" I am open to all people's opinions; however, those opinions rooted in making a positive, impactful difference are the opinions that inspire me. Thank you
Aricia Martinez October 06, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Hi Dena, I am not a Martinez resident, but I would vote for you if I could. I think that it is important to have school board members who actually have kids attending schools in the district. I also believe there should be term limits, as a few of the school board members have overextended their reach into areas they know absolutely nothing about (i.e. curriculum and teaching).
George March October 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Wow, mantra is right... answer form taken from the "Candidates' Guide to Avoiding Answering Questions", which I think also must have produced the "Miss America Candidate Guide to Answering Questions". No answer to the offered question at all... A true politician, here.

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