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Happy New Year! I am truly privileged to welcome everyone into this new calendar year as the Board President for the Bellflower Unified School District. As Governing Board President, I am looking forward to continue the progression of “Excellence” for our students, parents, and staff members. I am also pleased to be able to serve all three of our communities within the BUSD school boundaries. As we begin this new calendar year, let me reinforce some important facts and thoughts that will continue to produce an exciting year for the students of BUSD.
Our District currently serves a student population of approximately 13,000 K-12 students, within an eight square mile area in southeast Los Angeles County. It includes most of Bellflower, a large portion of Lakewood and a small portion of Cerritos. Several of our schools have been recognized as California Distinguished Schools, three have been honored as National Blue Ribbon Schools and two were acknowledged as Title I Achievement Schools. Somerset Continuation High School has recently received its fifth commendation as a California Model Continuation High School. The district also includes an alternative education program, and a Home Education/Independent Study Program, while also serving pre-school students in Head Start.
New programs being offered this school year that I am excited about and am very proud to have been part of bringing to BUSD are the Dual Language Program for Kindergarten students at the ILC, and a Mandarin Enrichment class for students attending the Home Education/Independent Study Program. Both are exciting new language learning pathways for our students, and growing in popularity.
Bellflower USD continues to offer quality programs and services within safe and clean facilities. It is because of the efforts of the certificated and classified staff that our classrooms are engaging and in well-kept condition for our students to enter each and every day.
The Board of Education and I desire to maintain high quality programs and beautiful facilities while continuing to keep a balanced budget. We are continually looking for ways to strengthen our services and support programs in order to improve student learning. As you may know, many of our school facilities have been in need of upgrades and improvements to keep pace with the “Standard of Excellence.” With the passage of Measure BB last November, I along with the Governing Board, look forward to making improvements that provide even higher levels of school learning environments for our children. Thank you for your support in passing such a valuable bond measure.
School campuses that are safe and orderly also continue to be a top priority for me and my board colleagues. This is seen with each of our schools having a comprehensive Safe School Plan that is updated annually, Anti-Bullying Themes, and Character Education Programs K-12. Each of these creates and sustains a positive and safe learning environment conducive to excellence. As Board President, I will also enforce a zero tolerance policy for drugs and weapons.
As we move into a new era of California Common Core Standards the Board and I will be actively involved with sustaining clear academic learning standards at every grade level, stronger curriculum guides, textbooks for every student, and having our teachers teaching fundamentals that will empower students to become active lifelong learners. Our students are at the center of all of our decisions, goals, and strategic actions. The Board and I pride ourselves on being student centered, and have high expectations for them. We want every student to meet the “Standard of Excellence; Nothing Less.”
President, Board of Education
Debbie Cuadros is a graduate from Chapman University with a Master and Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership and Change Management. She has taken those skills and applied them to her professional background as the co-founder of Simeio Solutions. This company has grown to over 60 employees and has begun to have a global recognition. Debbie has been extremely involved with the schools of the Bellflower Unified School District as a parent volunteer, PTA Council Representative, School Site Council Member, and District Advisory Council.
Debbie has a great passion for technology and is willing to work with multiple entities to see more access for the students and the parents of our district. Her energy to support the children and young adults of all three communities is tireless, and she is excited about the changes taking place within the District since joining the Governing Board in December 2011.
Laura Sanchez-Ramirez is a resident of the City of Lakewood and was first elected to the Board of Education in 2005. During her time on the Board, she has served in the capacities of Clerk, Vice President, and is in her second term as Board President. Laura has been an extremely active Board and community member. She is a member of the LA County School Trustees Association, the PTA, a Girl Scout Leader, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Pathways Volunteer Hospice, Friends of Lakewood Libraries, the International Peace Choir, and the Pan American Association. She has previously served on numerous committees including the Citizens Task Force, Mayfair High School Band Boosters, and AYSO team mom.
Laura has lived in the City of Lakewood for 14 years with her husband and four children. Her continued involvement as a Board member has led to quality changes in the educational structure of the District. Her insight to student involvement and encouraging parents to remain active with their child's education, drive her to be a well rounded Board member.
Jerry Cleveland is a resident in the City of Lakewood and was first elected to the Board of Education in 1995. Jerry currently stands as the longest consecutive seated Board member and currently serves as the Board Clerk. He has previously served as Vice President four times and three terms as Board President. Jerry is also a long time member of Bellflower Kiwanis and has had several achievements to be extremely proud of as a Governing Board Member. He is excited about what the future will bring as a Board Member and to the students of Bellflower, Cerritos, and Lakewood.
Dr. Paul Helzer is a resident of the City of Bellflower and was first elected to the Board of Education in 2002. During his tenure on the Board, he has served in the positions of Clerk, Vice President, and three terms as President. Paul has been a City of Bellflower resident for 54 years with his wife, and has seen all of his children attend the Bellflower Unified School District schools.
As a Board member for over 12 years, Dr. Helzer has seen some wonderful changes to the operation of the District and increased graduation rates. He is proud to be a member of the Governing Board and is looking forward to an even greater year as the District proceeds to hit the mantra of "Standard of Excellence; Nothing Less."
I earned my doctorate degree from USC in education with a focus on Human Performance Improvement, and my masters from Cal State Long Beach in Industrial Organizational Psychology. At age 3, while in Lebanon, I contracted polio. As an adult with post polio, I use a scooter while out in the community for greater independence. For exercise I love to swim but I have unfortunately put it on the back burner due to various projects. As the former ADA Coordinator for the City of Santa Monica, I strongly advocated for disability rights in the community and private industry, by attempting to remove attitudinal and architectural barriers through education. As a former producer and host of a local public access TV program, called Knowledge in Motion where I interviewed guests on various topics and current issues. I have also served as a Psychology Instructor and the WorkAbility IV Coordinator at California State University, Long Beach. As a consultant I take on various projects, such as working with Bellflower Unified School District helping students get jobs in the trades. In addition I have served on the Governor’s Committee on State Council on Independent Living and currently, I’m on the LA County Accessibility Appeals Board which supports the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On the personal side, I am single and have five nieces and nephews who are a big part of my life, for which I’m grateful. I live in Bellflower and I have a small poodle mix dog called Fluffy who loves me and follows me around all day. I look forward to serving BUSD for the overall betterment of all students, parents and staff members.