Catherine Vonnegut is the sole incumbent on the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees who is running for reelection this November.
Vonnegut, who was first elected in 2018, is seeking to win one of three seats coming up for a vote this year. She is running against challengers Thida Cornes, Jacquie Tanner, Carrol Ann Titus-Zambre, Esmeralda Ortiz and Eric Wayne Mark.
Fellow incumbents Fiona Walter and Debbie Torok have both announced that they will step down at the end of their current terms.
In an interview, Vonnegut said that she believes in the school district and feels progress has been made during her first term, and that she wants the chance to continue to serve. With at least two new trustees joining the five member board, Vonnegut said she believes there is value in the consistency that reelecting an incumbent brings.
"(Having) some stability and some people that know what's going on in the district, and already have a vision for the things that we're already trying to roll out, … is important," Vonnegut said. "I want to stay around to shepherd things through."
When she ran in 2018, Vonnegut said she was focused on ensuring academic excellence, addressing student wellness and making sure the district was a good steward of the $295 million Measure E bond.
Vonnegut said she has been pleased with the district's work in these and other areas over the past four years, while also weathering the pandemic. She pointed to her service on the board's facilities committee, which oversees bond spending, as one example of the work she's done.
When it comes to student mental health, the district created a wellness coordinator position in 2019 and has focused attention on its mental health resources. If reelected, Vonnegut said she wants to ensure that there's good coordination among the district's various wellness services and a clear map of how all the pieces interact.
Her other goals include strengthening the district's communications and engagement with the community, as well as focusing on equity throughout the district.
Vonnegut is also a supporter of the district's various alternative programs, including Foothill's Middle College, Foothill College Now, Freestyle Academy and Alta Vista High School. The board voted in 2020 to double the size of Middle College, a program where juniors and seniors take classes at Foothill College, and Vonnegut said it's possible a further increase could be needed. She also supports retaining the district's fully online program, which was created during the pandemic.
"I want to see a student placed in the best place for them. Sometimes it's the comprehensive high school – Mountain View or Los Altos – and sometimes it's not," Vonnegut said. "I don't think we should force everybody into the same mold."
While continuing to emphasize academics and the path to college, Vonnegut said that it is also important to prepare students for careers and she is supportive of efforts to expand the district's career technical education (CTE) offerings.
Vonnegut said she wants to stay on the board to keep a close eye on recently launched initiatives, including the ethnic studies program and the development of new statewide math standards, which have caused substantial debate.
"My dad's favorite phrase was 'iterative refinement,'" Vonnegut said. "Even the things that we've done well at, we need to refine, and (do it) continually."
To learn more about each of the candidates running for the high school district's board, visit mv-voice.com in the coming days.