Zesty Harper is running for a second term on the Escondido Union School District board in District 4, which serves northeast Escondido. She was board president last year.
Mrs. Harper has lived in Escondido her entire life. She met her husband John when they were both attending Escondido Charter High School. They were members of the first graduating class. She later attended Cal State San Marcos, obtained her teaching credential and taught 5th and 6th grade. When they started having children, she switched professions and has been a real estate agent for five years. “I divided my time between being a parent, teach, business person and board member,” she says. She has three girls, aged 4, 9 and 12.
The issue that prompted her to run for the board four years ago, remains her driving issue today. “When I first ran for the board I did so because I’ve heard parents crying because they knew about charter schools and couldn’t get in. They were devastated. My thing was that I don’t think it should be that way. Every school should be as good as a charter. You shouldn’t have crying parents because they have to send their child to a public school.”
She adds, “The public schools can just as good as the charters and should be. Four years. We’ve made great strides in the last four years. I’m very proud of what we have accomplished as a board.”
On that list of accomplishments she includes: “In the last three years our proficiency rates have gone up 11 percent in English language arts (ELA.) Math has gone up 9 percent. We have secured all of our schools with new fencing and security cameras and one way in and one way out,” she says. “That’s a big corner we’ve turned. We have implemented a GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program again, so we are not leaving out our high achieving students. We are half way through a one to one iPad initiative. We have refinanced bonds to save the taxpayers money.”
Harper describes her opponent, Georgine Tomasi as pro-union anti-charter school and herself as pro charter. “Most charter schools are non-union, which causes pro-union people stress.
Georgine’s only platform is shut down all charter schools. The charter schools in our district: Classical, and Heritage are doing well. I think competition is good and giving parents a choice where they want to send their students is good.”
As a mom, former teacher and Escondido resident she says, “I want to keep shining the light on the best the city has and ensuring good schools and curriculum will guarantee a bright future. I take a good common sense approach to being on the board. I spend a lot of time in the classroom talking to teachers and parents to come up with common sense solutions for the problems that we face every day.”
Mrs. Harper’s goals for her second term includes, “completing all the of security projects. To keep working with the new curriculum to improve our student achievement. And also work on building great citizens for Escondido!”
She added, “I also want to continue to focus on a conservative approach to the budget. Working on fixing the structural deficit and keeping healthy reserves.”
Mrs. Harper concludes, “I love Escondido. It’s a nice little corner of the world. I want to stay here and I want my kids to stay here. So that’s why I want to keep Escondido a great place to live.”
Zesty Harper will be at Sunday’s Street fair. She is also walking the district and knocking on doors with her three little girls. “I bring them along so they are not scared to run for office. I like to talk to the people and involve my girls.”
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