*Update 10/4/18*

The Santa Ynez Valley Union High School’s Board appointed Tory Babcock at their meeting on Oct. 3, to fill the vacancy of Steve Foley who still had two years left on his term. Babcock will remain on the ballot, and if she is elected then the board will have to appoint her term. If she does not win in the election, the top three vote getters will get the seat.

1. Why are you a candidate? What issues are important to you?

2. Campus safety is on the minds of many parents and students. Is the campus safe at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School? If not, what policies, procedures and student services would you support to make the campus safe?

3. The district is developing a 10-year master plan for improvement and maintenance of facilities. What should be the priorities of that plan?




Tory Babcock

Retired teacher

Question 1: Education has been my profession for 34 years; I spent 25 years as a classroom teacher at Santa Ynez High and prior to that taught for UCSB and Allan Hancock College. Currently, I am a Cal Poly University supervisor of new teachers and volunteer at Oak Valley School. My sons are former Pirates and my grandsons will be Pirates as well, thus both my intellect and heart are heavily invested in our local schools.

Curriculum directly impacts the students, thus a key issue for me is to provide rigorous academics geared to fit all students at all levels, a flourishing fine arts program, and strong vocational classes. We must have multiple ways to elicit kids’ interests and talents. Sports have the same powerful function.

Teachers and coaches guide and mentor our students through this process; when they are valued, they are empowered to effect tremendous positive change in our kids’ lives. Making sure we are taking care of the people who are critical to the mission is a hallmark of good leadership, and it is an important issue for me.

These issues rightfully put students at the core of what should be our focus.

Question 2: Campus safety is an issue that concerns all stakeholders. Three ways to improve school security would be to bring back a Resource Deputy to our campus, to install classroom interior door locks, and to have a mental health counselor on campus. Fire, earthquake, and intruder drills are repeated throughout the year. A few years ago we had an event in the community that led to a campus lockdown. Thanks to the drills, it took under three minutes to secure the entire campus, per law enforcement. Parents would be pleased to see how competently these procedures are handled.

SY has a zero tolerance for violence on campus, which is reflected in the discipline reports. Less than 2 percent of the students engage in fighting or weapons incidents, per the 2018 WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) report. In 2017 there was a fight resulting in a felony charge and subsequent expulsion. Since that time, a Restorative Justice program was initiated and counseling made available in order to further develop a positive school climate. Additionally, the school is monitored eight hours daily by three campus supervisors who patrol the campus perimeter and ensure students are in their classrooms during classroom hours and safe during breaks and lunch.

Question 3: The district will be developing the new School Strategic Plan over the next few months with the idea of improving the campus and the facilities. The priorities of that plan should reflect the changing face of education, such as offering more online learning, more blended learning (combination of digital and traditional learning), and increasing the number of Concurrent Enrollment (college credit classes taught on campus). Additionally, Career/Technical Education (CTE) classes are vitally important ways to prepare students for future careers. Many of these ideas are reflected in the 2018 WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation report, of which I was co-coordinator with English Department Chair Peggy Kelly. To produce the report, the faculty and administration engaged in a rigorous self-evaluation in which many of these issues were identified as areas of potential growth, earning a stellar rating from the WASC Visitation Committee.

Thanks to the vision and generosity of local voters, our school’s physical plant is undergoing much needed rehabilitation and should be completed by the beginning of 2020; however, it should be a priority to carefully maintain the new facilities so as to save money down the road and ensure the school’s longevity.


John L. Baeke


Question 1: SYV has a fine high school. I just believe it could be better. There is no greater opportunity to positively develop our youngest generation into virtuous parents, skilled workers and noble leaders than through excellent secondary schools. Our children are faced with distractions and obstacles, which threaten to prevent them from achieving greatness. School boards are on the front line in this battle. The board needs to provide our young people with excellent teacher-mentors; necessary learning tools; and a safe environment; all while using taxpayers’ resources in a responsible manner.

I am a medical doctor. Much of my academic success was due to parents and teachers devoted to helping me achieve my dreams. I want nothing less than these same opportunities for the students of SYVHS. My youngest child is a Junior. I have been actively involved in all of her academics and extracurricular activities. I have witnessed first-hand the changes happening; some are good. I do not claim to have answers to all the issues for which the board is struggling, but it is my belief that I might offer a different perspective, which would be of value to the board and make our high school even better.

Question 2: SYVHS is a (relatively) safe campus; however it faces internal and external threats to the safety of our children and staff, which need addressing. Our school should never be in a position of reacting to problems, which could have been anticipated. Here are a few:

a) H.S. parents know about the “gasser.” This is the PE exercise requiring students run down the wooded path from campus to Jim’s gas station, and back. This route is 100 percent unchaperoned. There are many stragglers running alone through areas totally out of public sight. I need not elaborate.

b) Student v student; student v teacher. The attack of a young girl last year by another girl should alarm us all.

c) The drug problem on campus is more pervasive than some are aware, largely due to student reluctance of reporting. A priority of the board MUST be School Resource Officer funding. Students and parents overwhelmingly support this.

d) Better nighttime lighting for teachers’ security.

e) Development of a volunteer Parent Safety Patrol.

f) Improved school parking lot design and traffic flow. (Measure-K funding should address this).

g) Consideration of new strategies for protecting an open campus from an active shooter.

h) Reducing traffic flow on Highway 246.

Question 3: Fortunately, much of the money annually withdrawn from the Deferred Maintenance Account has been (or will be) eliminated by Measure-K funds. Many of these expenditures were for items of deteriorating infrastructure (e.g. collapsed plumbing, alarms not to code, leaking roofs, wood rot, crumbling concrete, etc.) which previously received temporary (and expensive) band-aids and have now been properly addressed and should reduce stress on the budget. Unfortunately, other Measure-K items for which the district has already committed are demonstrating cost over-runs. The school budget will be expected to sustain that shortfall.

Due to the successful fundraising efforts of the Aquatic Center Foundation, full implementation of the new pool facilities are expected to eliminate the need for tax-dollar support of this wonderful asset.

$463,000 has already been reserved for construction of the new baseball field bleachers.

Thus, with a newly upgraded campus, modern stadium/tennis courts, soon-to-be completed aquatic center and steady enrollment, I cannot foresee any single major expenditures (e.g. new construction). Any ten-year plan should involve routine maintenance and necessary custodial staffing.


Elizabeth S. Breen

Association executive, Santa Ynez Valley Association of Realtors

Question 1: I am a 25 year resident of the Santa Ynez Valley with adult children who attended local schools. I have served on People Helping People’s board and others in the Santa Ynez Valley and have a history of volunteerism in the community.

Our high school district is facing challenges including: prioritizing and completing construction, long range master planning, negotiating teacher contracts, budget concerns and school safety. I have the professional background to contribute and do not have a personal agenda.

I have 15 years’ experience in school construction, providing services to school districts throughout Santa Barbara county. I served as chair of Solvang School’s Construction Oversight Committee and as a private construction consultant for the district.

I was an accounting technician and interim business manager for Solvang’s District for one year. I understand school finance, which has its own set of rules and regulations.

As a long term private business owner and in my current role as an association executive I am responsible for budget and finance of an entity. I am a fiscally conservative person.

Finally, I work closely with a board and understand the role of a board, as compared to the role of the administration and staff of a school district.

Question 2: Campus safety should be a top priority for all schools. I have talked with parents and heard concerns about both safety on campus and pedestrian safety around the campus.   While many seem to feel the campus is relatively safe, more can be done. One component is physical safety. The district has been working with CHP and just recently conducted a checkpoint which resulted in 29    tickets, mainly for excessive speed around the high school. I applaud those efforts. The incoming        board will be working with the district and stakeholders on a new long range master plan. Campus safety should be an integral part of that plan, particularly in terms of facilities. I would advocate studying the feasibility of sidewalks around the perimeter of the campus, and of physical barriers towards a more closed campus. Pre-identification of students who are having emotional and social difficulties also has to play a role in school safety. According to the 2017-18 Local Accountability Plan, the district has a full-time psychologist and has increased counseling efforts through partnership with People Helping People. Restorative justice and peer mediation programs have also been implemented. I would support maintaining and broadening those efforts.

Question 3: I was present at the August board meeting where a presentation was made by Santa Barbara County Schools on the master plan. It is my understanding that the plan will be developed with a variety of stakeholders including parents, teachers, staff, administrators, and community members. I support this approach and would advocate that the priority of the plan should be in keeping with the board bylaws, which state that board members will “Keep learning and achievement for all students as the primary focus.”

As a board member I would prioritize three areas.

  1. Campus Safety
  2. Fiscal planning to sustain the current construction and any future construction (I understand there are some grant applications in progress). Funds to ensure maintenance and deferred maintenance of construction projects should be a part of any long range planning.
  3. Facilities which support CTE (School to Work) courses which are being developed on campus, and take into account the expansion of Allan Hancock College on campus. The district should take into account all students and their needs while crafting a long range plan.


Jan Clevenger

Retired school administrator/educator

Question 1: I’m running for a second term on the SYVUHSD Board because I believe in the importance of giving back to my community. As a long time educator in the Valley I understand the unique educational opportunities afforded our children and the support needed for their successes. As a parent of two SYHS graduates I’m compelled to ensure that the high quality educational experiences they received continue to be offered to our current and future students.

Key issues of importance in order to provide excellent learning opportunities are:

  1. Complete all Measure K Bond projects which will ensure and enhance safe and secure learning environments for our students. The upgraded facilities and grounds need to demonstrate how our students and staff are valued by our district.
  2. Provide financial support and resources for 21st century learning to best prepare our students for an ever-changing and different workplace. We need to consider ALL learners by offering a challenging college prep curriculum, a variety of vocational courses, and opportunities to explore and experience post-secondary career pathways. What are we doing to ensure those graduates interested in getting into the workforce sooner through vocational/technical training programs have been exposed to quality programs and guidance?
  3. Support and maintain quality staff, both certificated and classified, with competitive salaries and equitable benefits. We are fortunate to have outstanding teachers, instructional support staff and classified personnel who are passionate, sincere and dedicated to our students.
  4. Maintain the fiscal health of the district in a time of ever-increasing operational and personnel costs.
  5. Expand collaborative opportunities with community partners (i.e. Allan Hancock College) to enhance additional learning experiences for our students. Bringing AHC onto our campus has increased access to college course work during the school day and exposure to career opportunities for our students.

Question 2: SYVUHS is a relatively safe campus for our students who are surrounded by caring adults, clean and functioning facilities and policies to support student safety. By no means is there any campus in this day and age that is 100 percent safe, but what does it mean to “be safe” on our campus? The pressures of being a teenager are tremendous in the academic, social and emotional environment in our schools. Students need positive relationships and to be able to express themselves without fear. Our campus and student support system needs to promote resiliency and student well-being. What can we do to ensure that our students feel safe?

Currently we have many adults who engage daily with our students – teachers, instructional support staff, principal, vice-principal, guidance counselors, campus supervisors and several coaches. We no longer have funding available for a school resource officer like several local high schools do. Resource officers support incidental activities … I’m looking for more. SYVHSD needs to enlist the services of a mental health counselor who can assist with identification of at-risk students, develop and provide support systems for those students and their families and seek resources outside of campus to broaden student support. Having such a counselor would be a proactive approach to student safety.

Question 3: It is exciting to think about how our district facilities will support our students and community in the near future. Currently district facilities including classrooms, ball fields and gyms support over 30 different community groups throughout the year. SYHS campus is often seen as a hub of the valley for activities. The master plan priorities should address a) student and staff safety of all facilities, b) support of the future instructional and extra-curricular programs, c) growing room for community partnerships and d) development of a facilities endowment plan to support improvements and maintenance.


Carl Johnson

Parent, musician

Question 1: I have lived in the Santa Ynez Valley for over 20 years and have raised three children here, all of whom have attended or are attending Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. I’ve been very impressed by the programs at the high school and by its talented faculty. This community has much to be proud of in SYVUHS. I’ve been disappointed, though, that there hasn’t been a consistent music program at the high school. There has been a succession of good teachers, but none who stay for long or are able to build a solid program. My main reason for running for school board is to do what I can to improve arts education at SYVUHS. A world-class high school should have a world-class arts education program.

Question 2: I believe our campus is as safe as an open campus can be. We appear to have an appropriate security presence and safety plan, and planned improvements to campus communications equipment will help. What would make the campus safer, however, is more mental health services available to the students and staff. High school years can be difficult, as students go through tremendous changes and experience great stress. Having greater access to professional mental health services available to the students, faculty and staff would go a long way towards engaging emerging problems before they become greater problems.

Question 3: The top priority should be providing students with a safe and encouraging learning atmosphere. I’d like to see all portable classrooms replaced with permanent structures, and all outdated classrooms refurbished.


Lori Parker

Mom, writer, retail, elementary school substitute teacher

Question 1: I enjoy serving the community, particularly the schools. One issue important to me is developing and implementing a plan to update the school’s teaching strategy to ensure ALL students excel at learning. Every student must be challenged and encouraged in an individual way in order to keep them engaged, help them master the curriculum, and gain the critical thinking/problem-solving skills that will enable them to thrive and be life-long learners. This won’t be done with a single, standard, one-size-fits-all curriculum. And it can’t be done without giving teachers the support they need to provide differentiating instruction to a broad range of learners. It may not be a simple fix, but it’s crucial that we encourage students to reach their highest potential, regardless of the classes they take or their learning capabilities.

Another important issue is to ensure that the school’s administration and teachers set a “role model” example for students, holding themselves accountable to the same behavior and standards they expect from the students so as to support an environment of tolerance, fairness, and enthusiasm. Teachers should consistently grade and treat all students fairly and objectively, thereby creating an environment at SYHS that naturally promotes acceptance.

Question 2: As a potential incoming School Board member, I am not currently well versed in the school safety procedures at SYHS. Therefore, it is difficult for me to say at this point whether or not I think SYHS is a safe campus. With my knowledge of this community, I would believe it is. However, should I be elected, I will be proactive in learning about the school’s current safety practices and limitations, and strive to hold the school’s leadership accountable for researching best practices throughout the country to determine the most effective plan to ensure our students are safe.

I will support any best practices that have a proven track record of being effective, from student tolerance education and discipline policies to emergency procedures and necessary facilities updates.

Question 3: The plan funded by Measure K is currently supporting the replacement and repair of outdated and/or dysfunctional aspects of the school’s infrastructure (sewer, water, pavement, etc.), addressing key fire/life/safety concerns, and improving and updating school buildings (new roofs, HVAC systems, emergency communications systems, etc.). These are all critical to providing an environment that is efficient, cost effective, safe, and enables learning. One additional aspect that I believe needs to be consistently addressed and updated is the school’s technology. Society today almost demands that educational facilities provide students, teachers, and the administration with access to the latest and greatest technology available.


Eileen Preston

Retired, patient financial counselor

Question 1: Since moving to the Santa Ynez Valley in 1986, I have been an involved member of the community. As an active parent of a child who attended local public schools, I gained valuable insight into the needs of students and their teachers. My six years as a member of the Buellton Union School District Board has provided me yet a broader understanding of the depth and complexity of overseeing the needs of students, staff and facilities. I will bring this perspective to the SYVUHS Board of Trustees. I care deeply about the safety of our students as well as the quality of their academic programs.

Question 2: The school district has in place a Comprehensive School Safety Plan which contains emergency response procedures, a detailed campus map, evacuation routes, staging areas and an incident command post. An annual evaluation of the plan provides an opportunity to assess the content and ensure alignment with state and federal emergency management systems. During the review process, a number of considerations could be addressed. In cooperation with law enforcement and mental health professionals, efforts should be made to assist students and staff in identifying potentially dangerous situations and behaviors, including those observed through social media.

Question 3: Through the passage of Measure K, passed by voters in 2016, much needed repair, modernization and renovation of school infrastructure has begun. The Citizens’ Oversight Committee, of which I am chairperson, will review and inform the public regarding the district’s expenditures and submit an annual written report to the board. The board, in consultation with the superintendent, has jurisdiction over construction contract approval, change orders, construction plans, schedules and the approval of the sale of bonds. Developing a 10-year master plan should include a preventative maintenance log to ensure the repair and renovation of the campus is maintained for future generations. This ongoing maintenance of school facilities will minimize unexpected expenses which could be costly to the district.


Tyler Sprague


Question 1: As an alumni and local resident, it is imperative to give back to the institution that helped me grow into the individual I am.  It is important to play a role in the community that built me so the next generations at SYVHS can continue to receive the quality education that was available to me.  As a board member I hope to create new educational and vocational opportunities to enhance the student experience.

Current and future students must continue to have the best academic and vocational programs available to them so they may pursue any career or secondary education path they choose.  Having a board which strongly supports the staff and teachers, so they can focus on continuing to provide excellent educational opportunities, inside and out of the classroom best reaches this desired outcome.  The staff are the constant of the school, and it is through their dedication that the students are able to achieve success. By providing proper support, including compensation, to the staff, we can ensure that SYVHS is of the highest quality, continues to attract the best educators in the Tri-County, and produces students who enter the world prepared to serve as proud ambassadors of our Valley.

Question 2: The Santa Ynez Valley is one of the safest places in the world, and we must always be vigilant as a community to keep it this way.  I have spoken with SYVHS staff who feel that the campus is prepared should disaster strike.  Although we hope this will never happen, we must be conscious that we live in fire and earthquake country, as well as an era when we have experienced far too many acts on school campuses. The best way to ensure safety is to have a proper plan and policies in place.   Having fought fires for the state of California before attending law school, I know the importance of safety. Simply put, the safety and security of our students is key to empowering a great education.  By working as a team with the school board, administration, teachers, families, students, community, and other stakeholders, we can continue to keep the students and staff safe so that they can focus on teaching and learning.  The best policy for safety is active prevention.  This happens at every level of the community from a good set of policies and procedures to active drills in the classroom.

Question 3: With any large project that will have a profound impact on our Valley community, the first priority should be transparency.   The community, which includes the teachers and staff, must be included in this process.  After all, the high school is a pillar of the Valley community; input as to what would best benefit the needs of the community is key.  The best input comes from those who use these facilities either as a workplace or a place to enjoy a theater production or soccer game.   We must also not lose sight of the fact that excellent facilities don’t make excellent students; that only comes from excellent teachers.

This is an opportunity to bring the campus into the future by integrating technologies into the classrooms in a way that boosts the experiences of the students and teachers without overwhelming what has made the school successful.  There must be thoughtfulness about which renovations are necessary while creating new opportunities for students.  The board has the opportunity to build and update the existing facilities to allow for programs that empower students to explore careers and interests that they are passionate about, such as agricultural facilities, computer programing, mechanical engineering, the arts and sports.


Jessica Yacoub

Small-business owner, social worker, volunteer, parent

Question 1: I am a candidate primarily because I’m passionate about the students at SYVUHS. I am a mom of a freshman and a junior. My husband and I have raised our children in this beautiful valley and have come to know and love this community. I am grateful to have been able to cheer on kids on the sidelines of too many sports events to count. My husband has coached for AYSO, Charter tennis and SYVUHS boys JV tennis. We have always embraced the opportunity, commitment and privilege to volunteer. I am currently serving on the board of Transition House Santa Barbara. I am a social worker and small-business owner. I enjoy meeting people and believe in working towards equality, and spreading love everywhere I can. I know SYVUHS is a wonderful place and also believe we can always strive to keep learning, growing and being better.

Question 2: While I do not fear for my children’s safety as I send them off to school I am aware that we live in a country that has a gun crisis. This is a present concern of parents and children alike. I believe it is our duty to do our best to protect our children at school and would approve measures to make our school safer. I think this is a layered issue that requires a look upstream and a look at best practices in the event of an active shooting.

I believe that our school needs to look into all its current policies and procedures. We need to decide if they are still relevant and decide how we will address violations. Then and most importantly we must be equitable in our administration of discipline. Children must believe they are all cared for and deserving of equality. This I believe is one piece of preventing violence. In the event of an active shooter … we must do more to educate our students, staff and parents. We must hire professionals who have the knowledge of what best practices are and then spend the money to make our campus safe.

Question 3: I am really excited to see improvements and maintenance happening at our school! I believe it is in everyone’s best interest to see the parking lot being improved and additional spots added. I would love to see our facility improvements include anything that would make our school safer in the event of a natural disaster or active shooter. I also look forward to our school becoming ADA compliant so that all students have the best access to all areas of the campus.


Eric J. Zivic

Sergeant, California Highway Patrol

Question 1: I graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in 2001, and as Pirate alumnus I am grateful for the quality of education I received. Our valley is a unique community — unlike many rural areas, the Santa Ynez Valley has maintained the charm and close-knit feel of a small town, despite constant pressure for growth and change. As a member of the SYVUHS Board I will be a tempered, mature voice, confidently shaping the future of a school that I care deeply about. I have two young children, who are admittedly quite a few years away from attending SYVUHS. However, I want to help make decisions today that will ensure that kids now and well in the future have the same great experiences that I did during my time at the high school. Various recent events at the school have led me to question some leadership decisions. And although I am not a career board member or lifelong bureaucrat, I can promise to apply my communication skills, logic, and level-headedness to make good decisions for the students of Santa Ynez Valley Union High — and, in turn, the Valley we all love.

Question 2: With a background in law enforcement, school safety is top of mind — and as a parent, safety comes before everything. I run the track at the high school every day and I’m thankful for the open-campus atmosphere that we have been able to maintain. Unfortunately, with horrifying events unfolding at school campuses across the nation, it is imperative to make changes to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff. There cannot be a focus on just one solution – certainly, putting up razor wire and cameras is not the answer. The key to ensuring safety is a measured, balanced approach and participation by all stakeholders. Learning, living, and thriving should be our students’ first focus, while the board, staff, faculty, and parents work alongside the students to create an inclusive, welcoming and secure environment. We can’t forget that every year, more students pass away in our Valley from traffic collisions and substance abuse than from physical violence. I hope to bring my law enforcement experience and perspective to the SYVUHS board in crafting decisions that will improve safety and student wellbeing, while mitigating risk and reducing the potential for harm.

Question 3: After the passage of Measure K, many of the high school’s critical infrastructure issues have already begun the upgrade process. There are still many items on the agenda and it will take a collaborative effort to prioritize what comes next. Any deficiency with the current infrastructure that jeopardizes the health and safety of the students and staff needs to take precedence. For example, my priorities include improvement of fire alarms, security and emergency communication systems. The next area of importance is ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that we meet the needs of people with disabilities as required by state law. Finally, we need to upgrade and maintain the existing structures to keep our high school in top shape and instill our community’s pride. Improving the school requires community effort. I would encourage any parent, student or valley resident with their own ideas to reach out to me personally. I look forward to representing your voice on the SYVUHSD School Board. And to Ms. Babcock, please go easy while grading this. It has been a long time since senior English class.


Kros Andrade: No Response