Cory Smegal is seeking a second four-year term on the Piedmont Unified School District board of education because there is more work to be done.
Smegal is one of five candidates competing for three seats on the board. The top three vote-getters in the November 3 election will begin their terms at the end of the year.
Smegal is the only incumbent running. Board members are limited to two consecutive four-year terms.
Smegal, currently the Vice President of the board, said she believes her experience is important.
“I care deeply about the schools and the well-being of our students and staff,” Smegal said in her online Q&A with the Exedra. “Throughout my term, I’ve worked collaboratively to solve issues the District has faced. For example, I worked hard last fall to get both Measures G&H passed to provide both stable and incremental funding to the District. During this time, I’ve built strong relationships with stakeholders from within the District and in nearby Districts. I am a clear communicator and direct in expressing my views. I am responsive when people raise questions and concerns.”
The issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic are very challenging issue for the PUSD, according to Smegal. Online education was used for the last three-plus months of the 2019-20 school year and the new school year has opened with the same. There are parents are concerned that their children might not be getting the same level of education online compared to in-person instruction. Some teachers, many of whom are in vulnerable demographics in terms of the disease, have expressed concerns that school cannot yet open safely.
“The most challenging issue facing the district is that we are in a global pandemic and yet we must continue to educate and support our students,” Smegal wrote. “This challenge is unprecedented, and it will take the collective effort of everyone — teachers, students, administrators, board members, parents and our community to get through this crisis. Last spring, during distance learning, we compared the effort to ‘rebuilding the plane while it is in flight.’”
Smegal said the district is trying to improve the experience from the spring, meeting the education and social-emotional needs of students.
“The district is planning for a safe return to school so that students and teachers can make important in-person connections that facilitate learning and mental health,” she said.
Smegal added, “we would all prefer for our students to be back in the classroom. In-person instruction is superior to distance learning.”
Smegal was raised in San Rafael and attended UC Santa Barbara. She earned an MBA at the Haas School of Business at the University of California. She has worked in business strategy and marketing. Her daughter is in college and her son is a senior at Piedmont High School. Prior to her election to the school board, Smegal volunteered for multiple educational organizations in Piedmont, including the Piedmont Education Fund, parent clubs and as a youth sports coach.