EUSD Board candidate: Rimga Viskanta

Rimga Viskanta, 42, lives in the Highlands area of Encinitas with her husband Tomas Viskanta and three children, Kaz, 14, Alena, 12 (both of whom now attend Oak Crest after going to Ocean Knoll) and Marty, 7, who is at Ocean Knoll.

Viskanta received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia, then went on to USC, where she got a master’s in Public Administration with emphasis on public accounting and financial management.

She’s worked as a management analyst for the city of Solana Beach, where she worked across various departments including Finance, City Clerk, Public Works and City Manager, and as an analyst for KPMG on a project to make government operations on military bases more efficient, before her current job as an accounting manager for a real estate investment and management partnership. Viskanta also worked as a nonprofit manager for the Colorado State Forest Service.

A long-time school and classroom volunteer, Viskanta is the PTA President at Ocean Knoll Elementary and a member of the San Dieguito Union High School District Prop AA Citizens Oversight Committee. She was formerly the Vice Chair of the EUSD Prop P Citizens Oversight Committee and a member of the EUSD’s Health and Wellness Committee.

1. What specific qualities or experience do you have that make you the right choice for the EUSD board?

My education and professional experience in the public sector will help me hit the ground running as a board member. I know how to work within the system to create change. As PTA President, I am familiar with the issues, concerns and priorities of parents. I actively seek feedback from stakeholders through surveys and informal questioning. I will do the same as a board member. I work collaboratively with teachers and staff and am pleased the teachers recognize my effectiveness and have endorsed me as a candidate. I am not afraid to question policies and procedures even if they’ve been in place for a long time. I always seek to understand differing points of view. My time on the Prop P Oversight committee gave me insight into the fiscal matters of the district. I know taxpayers want their money spent effectively and in the manner promised.

2. Please choose one key issue you see as very important for EUSD at this time and, if elected, how you would tackle that issue?

I believe the district must ensure the sustainability of its various innovative programs. Our students consistently rank at the top when comparing standardized test scores across the county and state. But in addition to our classroom teachers, who do a stellar job teaching the core curriculum, this year the district has committed support at the nine school sites for the enrichment teachers, who were previously funded entirely by parent dollars. All these programs do not replace the learning done in the child’s primary classroom, but the enrichment teachers and enrichment classes do add value to our students’ learning experience. I want to make sure the district can continue to support the enrichment programs into the future and will thus pay special attention to this issue.

3. What are some other issues you see as important for EUSD at this time and, if elected, how would you tackle those issues?

Our teachers underwent a lot of training and received a lot of curriculum support when the new common core English and math standards were adopted. I want to ensure our science curriculum and materials are as robust to support the district’s new science standards. I think this is best done in collaboration with the teachers. Another issue I feel is important is the achievement gap when comparing students’ test scores across the economic spectrum. Our students in the lower socioeconomic strata are not performing well when compared to classmates from middle or upper income families. Of course this issue is not unique to Encinitas, but I believe public school education should be a place where a student from any background should be able to succeed. There is no simple answer to this issue as there are many factors which contribute, but this is another issue to which I want to pay close attention.

4. What do you see as some of the best things about EUSD?

EUSD has exemplary teachers, staff and parents. Our schools consistently perform well. Our budget is balanced. Our district is a leader in utilizing technology in the classroom. Our district provides nutritious food for the school lunches. Our district has created safe modernized schools with an awareness of environmental sustainability issues. Our district allows for individuation at the nine different campuses — one campus is an International Baccalaureate school, another has a STEM focus, another teaches civic responsibility, etc. In addition to the core academics, Encinitas students benefit from myriad health and wellness initiatives which will have positive effects into adulthood.

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