Following an "exciting" first year-plus on the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees, Gabi Blackman told the Weekly she's ready to do even more if she retains her Trustee Area 4 seat in the Nov. 3 general election.
"It's been an exciting year; we've had incredible progress in just one year," Blackman said in a recent interview.
Among other projects and milestones, DUSD has acquired land for the future Emerald High School and allocated funds to renovate Frederiksen, Murray and Dublin elementary schools since Blackman won a special election in June 2019, but she said "the reason why I'm passionate about running as trustee is we have a lot yet to do."
Seeking a full four-year term this fall, Blackman is running on the Nov. 3 ballot for DUSD Area 4 Trustee against challenger Michael Utsumi.
Blackman "ran first on restoring the integrity and transparency of board communications" and said she wants to "promote critical-thinking in regards to district oversight."
"It's imperative that we strategically align our funding allocations with the prioritized needs of our district and community," she said. "We need to ensure the fiscal solvency of the district to continue to meet our long-term planning goals."
Blackman, who has three children in the district and volunteered extensively in Dublin schools for over a decade -- "I've probably cooked 1,000 meals for students" -- but she said spending more than 20 years of experience in the architectural industry, specifically educational institution design, has given Blackman "experientially based" ideas.
"From the point of view of what I bring that's unique as trustee ... my view of education is what's happening at a national level to advance education," Blackman said. "It's not so much how we volunteer in the schools; it's that we need to actually progress education and what enables students to learn better."
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and DUSD students learning remotely at the moment, Blackman said the district needs experienced leaders at the helm.
"You need to review and question everything you do to ensure that we keep staff, students, teachers and the entire community safe," Blackman said. "We understand the gravity of each decision we make in regards to how we educate during this pandemic, and we'll continue to always make decisions based on data, based on science."
Noting her trustee role in approving necessary purchases for "huge numbers of hotspots and Chromebooks during the shelter-in-place distance learning program," as well as coordinating with wireless providers to provide internet access for families and students, Blackman said she would continue to work with teachers and staff to ensure DUSD families continue to be supported during the pandemic.
When it comes to eventually reopening schools, Blackman said the transition "will require some deep review and working with the state and county to ensure we provide a safe environment for teachers to return to the classroom."
Blackman said the pandemic presents an opportunity to reimagine how DUSD approaches education, and that her career path outside her trustee role is a natural fit.
"My background has shown there's a lot going on at the higher education level, and the K-12 hasn't got there yet," Blackman said. "I truly believe this is the century when K-12 will make incredible strides. COVID-19 is bringing a revolution in learning. It's exciting to be here right now and involved in it."
To learn more about Blackman, visit www.gabi4dublin.com