The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



Meet SLCUSD Trustee and Board Candidate Walter Millar


Photo courtesy of Walter Millar.

With the election inching closer, our local races have been getting more attention. Now, more than ever, San Luis Obispo High School students have realized that these local elections impact them.

One of the races that impacts SLOHS the most is the run for the SLCUSD board. There are two spots for grabs on the district board, with the incumbents and a third candidate running for the Trustee spot on the board. SLCUSD trustee Walter Millar is one of the two incumbents running for re-election, after being on the board for over 20 years. He has been endorsed by notable groups, like the San Luis Obispo County Stonewall Democrats and San Luis Coastal Teacher’s Association.

Expressions interviewed Millar to get to know more about him and his campaign.

Millar is one of the Trustees, but his opinions do not reflect that of the board or the district. All views expressed are his own.

Expressions: What’s the best method for students to return to school if there is one? Do you think it’s safe to go back in January as planned?

Millar: Best way to return to in person teaching is to have a “quick response” coronavirus test that will allow isolating infected persons, tracing their contacts, and isolating them where necessary. We currently do not have a test that allows this, so I am not sure that it is safe to return to school.  As always, I will listen to the superintendent’s recommendations and review the supporting data before making my decision.

Expressions: Would the district make coronavirus vaccines mandatory?

Millar: When a safe and effective vaccine is available, I would support making the vaccine mandatory for students attending in-person classes as we do with other vaccines.

Expressions: What has the district done to address racial bias and injustice in this time of protests? How will the district continue to address racial issues?

Millar: The District’s focus on inclusion and equity provide an opportunity to educate students about racial injustice and systemic racism in our national, state and local institutions. Teaching history that illuminates our countries failings as well as our attempts to correct them (slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, women’s right to vote, reproductive rights, etc.) is important. “White-washing” history makes us complicit in perpetuating injustice.

Expressions: Ever since the Michael Stacks-Expressions incident in 2017, what has the district done to protect LGBTQ+ students and how will the district make sure that this won’t repeat?

Millar: The focus on equity and inclusion must include educating students and staff about LGBTQ+ persons and to insist on behaviors that do not threaten or disparage LGBTQ+ individuals. Failures to follow those requirements should be responded to through a Restorative Justice process where an individual makes restitution to the injured party in some form and promotes enlightenment and growth, where possible, for the offender. There is no way for the District to prevent a person from expressing their views even when they are offensive. What can be done is to hold those individuals accountable where the behaviors violate district policies and/or Administrative Regulations such as Mr. Stacks wrongful proselytizing at school.

Expressions: How will the district deal with the closing of Diablo Canyon in terms of funding? What programs will be impacted the most across the district?

Millar: The Diablo Canyon closures have been dealt with by participating vigorously in the Community Impact Settlement which provided 10 million dollars over 7 years to the district. The three PG&E bankruptcies during my twenty years on the board has resulted in PG&E’s contribution through Unitary Taxes being greatly diminished. Fortunately, the District’s Property Tax revenues continue to increase. At this point, I’m less concerned about Diablo than I am about the unknown fiscal impacts of returning to in person learning particularly with 16 to 1 student/teacher ratio and social distancing. A component of my concern is the safety of older teachers and staff with underlying health issues. We could be forced to greatly increase staffing to meet these challenges. 85% of our budget is for salaries and benefits, so increased hiring will drive these costs higher.

Expressions: What are some of the ideas you have in mind for plans if you win re-election to the board?

Millar: Return to in-person learning, assess and remediate impacts to our students’ learning due to the shutdown, and virtual learning, and completion of the Measure D projects.

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