From 10/14/09 issue
By Elaine Weinreb
Press Staff Writer
Q. Why do you want to run for another term on the NHUHSD board?
Sarie Toste: I’ve been involved in education for many years as a career. I taught in the McKinleyville district for many years, I was interim superintendent at Trinidad and Jacoby Creek, and I retired as an administrator.
This is a way for me to give something back to the community, where I can have a direct impact on the lives of our students. I feel honored to serve the community that raised me.
2. Do you support trying to get a school bond passed to improve the McKinleyville and Arcata High School campuses?
Toste: I’m not ready to comment on that yet. I need to hear more from the community.
3. The state budget is still very unstable. In case further cuts are necessary, what programs would you reduce or eliminate?
Toste: None. Considering the lack of financial resources we’re faced with, our situation is pretty stable. When we’ve had to make cuts, we’ve tried to keep them as far away from the students as possible.
4. Do you have any other ideas for raising money or improving the finances of the school district?
Toste: We have some outstanding grant-writers in our district, and they’ve been very successful in bringing in money through grants, enabling some programs to continue.
At Arcata High School, I’m on a committee for the Career and College Center. We’re going to have a pancake breakfast and try to raise some funds to help provide services to our students. 5. What would you do to improve vocational education for students who choose not to attend college? Toste: I’d like to see more partnerships with our local businesses to assist our vocational students. I toured a home that the HROP [Humboldt Regional Occupational Program] kids built. This is a house that the students built with the partnership of Ace Hardware, Miller Farms, and many other businesses around here.
These kids may not be going to college, but they know how to do things that the other kids don’t know how to do. They did the electrical, the plumbing, and built this fantastic home.
All of our students should be encouraged to further their education – it doesn’t have to be college.
6. Students who are members of various minority groups often drop out before graduation because they do not feel accepted within the school. What, if anything, would you do to make students who are: people of color; gay or lesbian; or physically or mentally disabled, feel safe and accepted in school?
Toste: I’m not sure we have a high number of students that are not graduating. Our staff doesn’t allow children to fall through the cracks, regardless of their color or their race or their status. Our counselors are outstanding. Our teachers take the time to reach out to students who are having difficulty. We’re providing as many services as we can to these youngsters.
7. In the past two years, what decisions of the board have you agreed with? Which have you disagreed with, and why?
Toste: A decision I certainly agreed with was expanding our services – transportation, the lunch program – to include other districts.
The hardest, most challenging decision was to eliminate or downsize our staff.
8. What is your occupation?
Toste: I am retired. I just retired as a Learn to Earn [school savings bank program] administrator, a program I started when I was a school administrator. About 110 schools, 80,000 children in California and Oregon participate in this program and are banking.
When I retired from the schools, the Learn to Earn program asked me to be their administrator. I went to every school in Humboldt County, and went into the classrooms and talked to the kids about the importance of saving their money. We started this program in 1996. And now we have kids who bought cars when they turned 16 with money they saved in school, or used it for college!
Now I’m on the KEET-TV board, which takes up some time, as well as some other boards.
9. How long have you lived within the area encompassed by the NHUHSD?
Toste: Most of my life.
10. If elected, what changes, if any, would you try to make? Why?
Toste: I wouldn’t want to make many changes. I would want to continue with the ongoing practices of our board, which is doing a wonderful job of meeting the needs of our students. We have a great high school district, and we’re also serving other districts as well.
I want to see our kids succeed. I want to see them glow with success!