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February 9, 2023

Meet the candidates: MHUSD Trustee Area 2

James Dill, John Horner run for board of education seat

Running for the Morgan Hill Unified School District Trustee Area 2 seat are James Dill and incumbent John Horner. 

Horner is running for his second four-year term on the MHUSD Board of Trustees. His professional experience started out as an engineer and manager in the semiconductor industry, followed by his recent ownership of a local small business, he said in response to questions from the Times. In recent years, he has also become active volunteering with community-building nonprofit organizations in Morgan Hill. 

Horner and his wife, Ann, have been married for 35 years. The couple have “an amazing adult daughter, Holly,” John Horner said. His hobbies include classic auto repair and woodworking. 

Dill has owned and operated a number of companies over the years, including a flight school at San Jose International Airport, which consisted of 12 instructors and 15 aircraft, he said. Currently, Dill facilitates a consulting company “with the focus on people, product, process with instructional design for curriculum development and evaluation,” he told the Times. He says his professional experience “has been focused on improving performance at the organizational process, and individual performer levels—People, Product, Process.”

Dill, who has flown for commercial airlines and corporate aircraft, is still licensed as an airline transport pilot and flight instructor, he added. He enjoys “traveling to off-beaten tourists’ destinations and meeting and living with cultures that I am not familiar with.” 

The Times sent both candidates a list of questions to help readers get to know them better before the Nov. 8 election. Their answers are below. 

John Horner

Why are you running for re-election to the Trustee Area 2 seat on the MHUSD Board of Education?

I’m running for re-election to continue the work we have been doing to improve educational outcomes, provide higher levels of student and family support, and expand the breadth and depth of programs we offer students at all grades levels. I’m particularly excited to build on the recent return of regular physical education, music and arts programs at our grade schools along with more electives and course options in the high schools.

John Horner

What are some of your ideas for improving school safety and eliminating bullying and student violence in the schools?

School safety begins with the emotional well-being of the students and adults involved. While we have been improving fencing and other traditional security measures, these alone are not “the complete answer.” Eliminating bullying remains a big need in schools as it has been since my now distant memories of once having been a student myself. We continue to expand and deepen the use of Positive Behavioral Intervention Systems and other campus cultural initiatives focused on increasing supportive behaviors of students with each other; while also intervening directly in unacceptable situations when necessary.

What do you think are the top two to three issues for MHUSD, and how would you address these as a Trustee?

Implementing comprehensive availability of before and after school programs is a big project and high priority. Fully staffing to meet the opportunity presented by the addition of a seventh period at the high school level is another challenge we are working on. Systematically increasing bi-directional communication with all stakeholders is absolutely essential to the success of everything we do.

James Dill

Why are you running for election to the Trustee Area 2 seat on the MHUSD Board of Education?

Our children’s future depends on our choices now! We must provide highly competitive pay for classroom teachers and empower our students by giving them an environment to learn and with a curriculum that enables them to engage in their learning. I will support programs that will enable an environment for our students to continue their studies in a safe and healthy environment. 

James Dill

I am running for Governing Board Member of the Morgan Hill Unified School District, because of the safety and welfare of our students. I am also running for fiscal responsibility in our school district.

I will support programs that will enable an environment for our students to continue their studies in a safe and healthy environment.

What are some of your ideas for improving school safety and eliminating bullying and student violence in the schools?

Bullying must be dealt with immediately whether on the school grounds, off the school grounds, through social media or any other forms that impact another student or teacher’s interaction with the student and or school. We cannot afford to be distracted by a group of students and individuals who diminish or undermine our students and teachers from educating our students.

Below is an outline for individuals, institutions and society to build a program to help prevent shootings that have disrupted our schools and taken many students’ and teachers’ lives.

The following is from a study, The Violence Project, authors Jillian Peterson Ph.D., and James Densley Ph.D., which I support the methodology and design of programs that may prevent the next disruption of our educational system.

As Individuals: 

Trauma—Build relationships and mentor young people

Crisis—Develop strong skills in crisis intervention and suicide prevention

Social Proof—Monitor our own media consumption

Opportunity—Safe storage of firearms; if you see or hear something, say something.

As Institutions:

Trauma—Create warm environment; trauma-informed practices; universal trauma screening

Crisis—Build care teams and referral processes, train staff

Social Proof—Teach media literacy; limit active shooter drills for children

Opportunity—Situational crime prevention; anonymous reporting systems.

What do you think are the top two to three issues for MHUSD, and how would you address these as a Trustee?

1) Empower and protect students. We must change the environment through dialog and provide workshops for a safe place for the student and staff. The design and development of a program must be done with professionals who are trained in crisis management. We must use resources such as partnering up with the professionals and parents who have experienced these tragedies for programs in preventive measures for our school district. 

2) Retain teachers. Teachers are the lifeblood of our school system. We cannot afford to allow our qualified teachers to move on to another school because we lacked the support and funds for their class and career. 

3) Fiscal responsibility: Reviewing the minutes for the last eight years, I cannot see the discussion that took place for the board to unanimously agree on programs and projects that may or may not have benefited the community. We must be diligent and detailed to carry out our fiduciary duties to our parents, students, and community.

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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