Board of Education Hopeful Cites Budgeting Skills

John Gabriel
John Gabriel

Wanting to bring what he said is his “good, strong track record of conservative but effective spending techniques” to the table, John Gabriel is vying for a seat on the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education in November’s election.
A business turnaround consultant for a firm that works internationally, Gabriel said he believes his skills there, as well as those earned as a noncommissioned officer and paramedic in the U.S. Army, would translate effectively on the board and add to the diverse skill set already there.
“There’s a good mix of board members who currently occupy the positions. When I look at the composition of the board, there’s a good mix and variability,” he said. “I have a lengthy track record of being able to look at budgets and using them in a creative way to really maximize the budget available, and I think that’s a thing that will really benefit the San Marino Unified School District.”
A Pasadena native, Gabriel earned his bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s in business administration (focusing on finance and organizational development) from Pepperdine University. In his six years with the U.S. Army, Gabriel said he created and implemented training protocols and was inducted into the elite Order of the Spur.
Gabriel and his wife, Dr. Jameela Chen Gabriel (a 1994 San Marino High School graduate), have lived in San Marino for most of the last 12 years — the two relocated to Michigan briefly as part of her education — and have three children, two of whom are at Carver Elementary School.If elected, Gabriel said, he would focus on evaluating every decision with one ultimate goal in mind: providing the best possible education for students.
“I have no criticism of the current structure of the school district,” he said. “I would want to be involved in creating a very specific focus on one item. When kids leave here, I think the most important thing is that the kids are educated in the highest degree possible.
“If we’re talking about replacing a bunch of equipment, how does that tie into the overall goal of producing the most educated kids when they leave the district?” Gabriel added. “I want to be very systematic. I want to be involved with finding the core primary goal and evaluating everything against that. When you make these decisions, it has to be based upon some overarching, mutually agreed-upon goal.”
Asked about big issues moving forward, Gabriel said finding a new superintendent obviously ranked near the top. He said he would want to hire someone with a lengthy track record of effective management and not “somebody who focuses on all the bells and whistles.”
Gabriel added he’d like to help stem the flow of parents putting their students in private schools outside of town.
“I know we’re all proud of the No. 1 rating” — the finding of a state assessment — “but is it easily identifiable and recognizable in each individual student?” he said. “Are they the best candidates who are applying to various universities? I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case, and I want to make sure that is the case.”

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