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Photos from Jen Fornal and Gretchen Vurbeff

Jen Fornal (left) and Gretchen Vurbeff (right) pose for a photo. Both candidates are running for board trustee in Area Four.

Area Four: Jen Fornal and Gretchen Vurbeff

In Area Four, Jen Fornal and Gretchen Vurbeff are vying for a position to represent the region.

“I am running for school board to serve Carlsbad students and families with the knowledge, skills, and experience I have developed throughout my career as an education and youth development advocate and collaborative leader,” candidate Jen Fornal explains.

Fornal is a mother of two current Carlsbad Unified students and has spent most of her more than 30-year career working in the nonprofit industry. She presently serves as a board member of the Carlsbad Educational Foundation, which assists in funding Carlsbad Unified schools for initiatives like music, technology and science. Her career has led her to visit or work with numerous public schools and districts across the state of California.

She states that this work allowed her to “advocate for young people throughout the state of CA to have access to safe and enriching places and programs to learn new skills and discover new interests.” 

If elected, she wants to encourage conditions that are safe, sustainable and conducive to learning and excellence. She also thinks that opening up opportunities for varied and inclusive education is crucial for preparing children for life in a world that is always changing.

“I am committed to keeping our schools strong and ensuring Carlsbad’s young people have access to the skills and experiences they will need to succeed in life after high school,” she notes.

Along with these education goals, she aims to broaden connections with the Carlsbad community and provide more opportunities for students to apply what they are learning in school to real-world challenges in the business and civic sectors. 

“I would like to deepen the connection between the schools and our surrounding community where students have opportunities to apply classroom learning and to get real-world experience,” Fornal explains.  

If elected to this role, she thinks her extensive background in the educational system will be beneficial.

“I know what it takes to work collaboratively with teachers and District staff and move ideas forward. I am an experienced board member, community leader, and collaborator. I have worked on city-wide and local initiatives bringing together non-profit agencies, schools, funders, legislators, students, and families to align resources and plan for better outcomes.” she states.

Fornal’s opponent, Gretchen Vurbeff, has been a mother of two CUSD students and an active member of the Carlsbad community for the past 22 years as a community and PTA volunteer, which inspired her to run for school board.

“I am running for the school board to ensure that CUSD remains a school district known for educational excellence,” Vurbeff states.

She founded her own company as a wellness educator after beginning her career as an exercise physiologist.  She contributed to the development of training and safety curriculum instructions for SD County and CA Dept of Health and Human Services. She has taught wellness classes for over 20 years. During the pandemic, she became an adjunct professor at San Diego Community College and led classes for online students. 

 She wants to address the pandemic’s effect on learning, foster a secure learning environment, encourage teamwork, and ensure that pupils succeed if she is elected to this post. Recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected students over the past two years, is a crucial component of her campaign. She places the utmost priority on providing all students with additional help so they can get back on track.

“I want to be a bridge between parents, teachers, and the district, particularly to repair the divide from school shutdowns,” she expresses. 

Additionally, if elected, she would commit to looking beyond herself in order to better the community as a whole.

“Elected officials may not always agree with one another, but we can demonstrate how to disagree respectfully and work toward common goals which represent our community,” she concludes.

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