Salvo Sees Funding, Engagement as LCUSD Focus

Christoper Salvo

Since he started campaigning, Christopher Salvo has enjoyed getting to know his neighbors better, people he might have met but hadn’t shared a substantial conversation with — perhaps because they’d never discussed local schools, a subject on which La Cañada Flintridge voters are well-versed.
Salvo, a project manager at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is running for office for the first time. He is one of five candidates for three available La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board seats in the Nov. 7 election. Those elected will serve four-year terms.
“A number of people are interested in the bond and how the district manages those funds,” said Salvo, whose children are in the 4th and 6th grades at La Cañada Elementary School. “And people are interested in the academic standards. Other individuals are interested in interacting with the teachers’ union, the budget and the adoption of curriculum.”
His work managing multi-million-dollar, highly technical, far-out projects might have helped hone his appreciation of all the viewpoints he’s heard lately. In Salvo’s work, collaboration is key. He imagines a position on the LCUSD Governing Board would be similar — especially when it relates to implementing the $149-million Measure LCF bond, should it pass.
“You have to hear from everybody and make sure you’re not missing some smaller voices that have the right things to contribute,” said Salvo, who has worked at JPL for nearly 30 years and lived in LCF for the past three. “You have to balance stakeholders and risk and make choices and defend those choices.”
Most talked about this election are the bond and the campus improvements it would help fund.
“The district has scraped along for a very long time without sufficient funding to do that, in large part because of how the equations line up in Sacramento,” Salvo said. “I believe it will pass and it’s all of our money, so we need to make sure it would be managed well and we get the best of it.”
Salvo hopes to be involved in decisions related to expanding the palette of options for students to better match their skill sets and affinities.
“I talk to schoolchildren sometimes and one of the things I say is, ‘I’m a rocket scientist, so math and science and physics, those things are important, but most of what I do all day at JPL is English and communicating and writing stuff down,’” Salvo said. “All of that well-roundedness and that teamwork is important. We can’t all be automatons marching down a technical path, even in a technical place like JPL.”
An active Boy Scout parent and member at St. Bede Catholic Church, Salvo said he’d also advocate for increased parental engagement in areas such as choosing textbooks.
“Parents are chomping at the bit to be a part of the process,” Salvo said. “I’d like to investigate if we are getting enough advanced notice out about things.”
And Salvo said he thinks teachers would do well with more autonomy.
“Sure you have to monitor it and meet the standards,” he said, “but you’d like for them to make it their own as well. I think there’s room for improvement there.
“This is how this works,” Salvo added. “People offer themselves and join the procession in order for a community to be vital. There are always things that can be improved. The point is not to think we’re great because we’ve always been great. We won’t stay great if people don’t get involved, if we don’t ask ourselves questions and do some self-scrutiny.”

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