Letter to the Editor: Why I am running for re-election

Dear Editor:

I am Donald LaPlante and I want to let you know why I am running for re-election to the Trustee Area 4 board seat in the Downey Unified School District.

Downey Unified has made some great accomplishments over the last few years, including a high school graduation rate of 94% compared to a statewide average of 81%.  Our students have an attendance rate of over 97% every day.  In four years, we have increased the rate at our which high school graduates qualify for four-year colleges by over 20 percentage points and are working to increase it by 40 more point in the next four years.    

After attending a statewide conference three years ago, I saw an innovative program called Summer Matters. I brought the program to our staff, who embraced it and this last summer thousands of students had programs that helped stem the summer learning loss that occurs when students aren’t in school.  This is a major success for our students.

I am recognized as the financial expert on our board.  During the recent recession, thanks to the sound financial plans the board had implemented, we had no layoffs of our teachers.  But, more importantly, we had no “furlough days” where students and teachers had to take days off of the school calendar.  Not ONE MINUTE of student class time was lost during the recession.  Other districts lost over a third of a school year of class time over the recession years.

Thanks to our community, we have Measure O building projects coming forward.  This summer we start a major renovation starting at Stauffer Middle School, which will also expand the play area for students next door at Old River School.  My finance expertise will ensure we get the projects done on time and on budget.

In the many years I have served on the board, I have missed only two meetings to illness and a business trip.  Before I ran for the Board, I attended school board meetings faithfully for over a year to see how the district and board functioned.  To my knowledge, my opponents in this election never attended a board meeting before filing to run and have not even attended all of the meetings since becoming candidates.

I am proud to have been endorsed by the 1000 plus members of the Downey teacher’s association and our local Assembly member, Cristina Garcia. I have been honored to serve and still have the energy and passion to help continue to take our school district to even greater heights. I have faithfully represented all of the students of our district and ask for your support for this coming Tuesday, November 3.

Donald LaPlante
Board Member, Downey Unified School District