Already a familiar face among Dublin Unified School District families, Catherine Kuo has been doing her homework for her new job as Area 3 Trustee since winning a Nov. 5 special election.
After earning 76% of votes to defeat opponent Malcolm Norrington in the off-year election last month, which saw about 712 out of the 4,650 registered voters living in Trustee Area 3 cast ballots, Kuo has been committed lately to diving deeper into the DUSD community than ever before.
"I've been talking to people almost every day" to learn more about the district's priorities, challenges and goals, Kuo told the Weekly, adding that she had stayed up late the night before the interview attending a DUSD Board of Trustees meeting to stay on top of the issues she'll be tackling after she's sworn in at the next board meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 17).
When Kuo takes her seat on the dais next week, DUSD will have a full five-member board for the first time in about a year due to two midterm resignations and ensuing special elections.
A longtime Dublin resident and parent of two children in DUSD schools, the Bay Area native grew up in Saratoga and works as a full-time business analyst. Kuo, who received her psychology degree from UCLA, said she was "perfectly happy volunteering at the schools" including serving on the Superintendent's Council and Second High School Input Committee and as the Dougherty Parent Faculty Club president.
Although she had been "fairly active in terms of local politics" over the past few years, Kuo said she "never imagined that I would be stepping into a role like this" until she felt that Dublin families would benefit from a trustee who deeply understood the DUSD community.
"These are our children we're dealing with and I wanted someone in the position that cared about our schools and children and that was here to stay," Kuo said. "I decided to run because I knew my heart was in the right place and I felt that I could keep my focus on what was best for Dublin's students."
The platform that Kuo campaigned on was one of transparency, school safety, fiscal responsibility and building Dublin's second high school, and she plans to keep a laser focus on that list.
"I've always been clear about what my goals were in running for this position," she said. "The first is to ensure as little delay as possible in the construction of the new Dublin high school.
"There are so many things that can delay a public school project, especially in a district like Dublin where we don't have all the funds to do the projects that we want to do," she continued, adding that she's "seen some on the table for 10 years and they're finally breaking ground."
"I'm new, it's a huge learning curve -- I'm the first to admit I have a lot to learn, but I do know there are so many things that can delay projects."
Kuo also sees planning the new high school as an opportunity to teach residents more about DUSD's budget while increasing transparency and accountability.
"I really appreciate that our community has unequivocally supported school bonds for more than 15 years, so I would like to make sure that I understand our budget process and can make it as transparent as possible for our community," Kuo said. "It's really important for the public because this is bond money, public money, what the homeowners are paying into our schools and so I think they deserve to know exactly what they're paying for."