Lori Bastian

Students in OR grads of TU schools? My husband Nick and I have three sons attending a Tempe Union High School: Two freshman and one sophomore. 

Occupation: Realtor, Small business owner

Years in district: 17 years.

Educational background: BA from Texas A&M University in College Station, TX

Community involvement: PTO Board Member, Tempe South Little League Board Member, Corona del Sol Touchdown Club board member, volunteer for the Boxer Luv Rescue. I am also a member and volunteer at Arizona Community Church. I believe in serving our community, and I enjoy supporting a variety of charitable organizations.

What top three skills would you bring to the Board?

1) I am a good listener. By listening to others and valuing our diverse community and perspectives, I will seek collaborative solutions.

2) I am detail-oriented, and I will be sure that issues are thoroughly reviewed.

3) As a small business owner, I am fiscally prudent. Overseeing the budget is a primary function of the board, and I will work to keep our district accountable.

Why should voters vote for you? I bring a perspective that is currently missing on the board – one as a parent with children attending a district school. I have a vested interest in the decisions that are made. I will advocate for meeting the needs of ALL students. It shouldn’t matter which TU high school students attend; all students deserve an excellent and equitable education. I will make that a priority. I have zero political aspirations; the only reason I am running for the Board is because I care about our district and our students.

Has the pandemic affected your view of a governing board’s role in general? If so, how? The pandemic has not affected my view; however, it has highlighted the importance of electing trusted community members to make data-driven decisions while listening to constituents. Many are realizing for the first time that critical decisions are made at the school board level. Governing boards are nonpartisan, and personal agendas should not interfere with the oath to serve all students.

Assuming COVID-19 will be with us indefinitely, does Tempe Union need to do something it isn’t doing now to ensure a quality high school experience for students over the next four years:

Where academics generally and preparation for higher ed and/or the job market are concerned? TU needs to identify students who have fallen behind. Remediation must be provided to get these students back on track, and students must be allowed the option to return to in-person learning. Online learning is not working for all students, further expanding the achievement gap. For those who do choose online learning, TUHSD should provide more rigorous course options.

 Where students’ social-emotional wellness is concerned? I believe that getting students back into schools will significantly improve current social-emotional health. We are in crisis mode now, and East Valley schools have already lost 5 students to suicide since March. In a virtual environment, it can be difficult to identify at-risk students. Being disconnected from friends and teachers has many unfortunate consequences. Reconnecting needs to be a priority.

What is biggest challenge confronting the district that must be addressed within the next two years and how would you address that challenge? In talking to families across our community, I have learned that they have vastly different experiences. Our schools must provide more consistent opportunities. Resources vary significantly across the district. We must focus on offering an equitable education for all students. Recruiting and retaining the best teachers should be a priority. We can do this by ensuring teachers’ needs are met. Students with disabilities and those most at risk need to be prioritized.

If funding became a critical issue for the district in the next two years, would you be more inclined to cut programs or raise taxes? Why? Cutting programs is not an option. TUHSD needs to provide a great education to remain a destination district with exceptional programs and athletics. I would recommend a district-wide audit to review district resources and funding allocation. This type of transparency will ensure the trust of our community, who consistently supports bonds and overrides.

Knowing what you know now, would you vote to extend Dr. Mendivil’s contract beyond June 2021? Not yet being familiar with the district's inner workings, I would like to see an audit conducted at Tempe Union, similar to the one undertaken by Kyrene. Based on the audit findings, we can make informed decisions about the administration and district operations. I would seek to work collaboratively with the district leadership.

What is the one area the district administration is addressing in an exceptional manner and why do you think that?

Tempe Union made an effort to address our students' social and emotional health before the pandemic. I would continue the partnerships with the City of Tempe and Care 7, in addition to, fully funding the SRO program that is a model across the country. In these difficult times, strengthening and fostering relationships between School Resource Officers and students is critical.

In what 3 areas has the current Board not met your expectations and what would you do differently?

1) Communication. Currently, many parents, students, and teachers are feeling hopeless and without a voice. Parents have provided feedback to the Board with little response. I would establish stakeholder groups to give a voice to the many challenges we face.

2) Board members should keep personal agendas and politics out of our school district.

3) Transparency. I think it is imperative to provide full accountability to our community

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