Frequently Asked Questions

Please provide a brief biographical sketch: education, interest, community involvement, work history:

My name is Emily Prusso. I have a master’s degree in literature from Cal State East Bay and my husband and I own a small business here in Livermore. I currently have two children in the LVJUSD and have graduated two. I have been a longtime Boy Scout volunteer as a merit badge counselor and as staff member at BSA National Camp School. I worked at LLNL for a few years in the Biology and Biotechnology department and am currently the board clerk for the LVJUSD school board. I also serve as the Chairperson on the ROP (Regional Occupation Program) Board‐which is a Tri-Valley endeavor.

Why are you running for the school board, and what do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I am running for school board because I have a lifelong interest in learning. I have always been involved in the schools with my children and care about their education as well as the educational goals of our community. My parents were both educators and encouraged me to be involved in education and learning.

I have three priorities which are: 1) making sure students have strong fundamental skills in reading, math, and science, 2) teaching students practical life skills, including financial literacy, and 3) developing students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills. I have served on the LVJUSD school board for four years and in that time have seen students gain knowledge and skills to succeed in careers or college. I have championed programs that support these goals such as math initiatives, career technical education, and algebra readiness. I have prioritized elementary science specialists, teacher support, and encouraged community engagement. Finally, I would like to ensure that all children in our district thrive in a safe environment, physically and emotionally. I believe that we can close the learning gaps caused by the pandemic with strong, committed leadership. I believe I have the experience and passion necessary to continue my role on the school board.

What unique skill would you bring to the board?

Besides my interest in a healthy education for the Livermore community, I think that because I have kids who have recently graduated and are currently in the system, I have a unique perspective on what’s happening on the front lines of our educational system. My kids are all different learners and I have had to advocate for their education in different ways. Additionally, I have learned so much in the past four years on the school board. Not only have I learned how to develop and enhance my role within the district, I have been able to be a part of the culture of the district. I want to bring community concerns to our superintendent and am always available to listen and learn from all of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at any time with any questions or concerns you might have about your child’s education.

How important is students’ mental health?

Our students’ mental, social, and emotional health needs to be supported and is integral to their success as students and as members of our community. We have many mental health supports throughout the district including additional counselors, social-emotional curriculum, training for teachers, staff, students, and community members, Livermore Learns topics and support, Kid Connection at our elementary schools, and Wellness Centers at both high schools, and the recent addition of a newly adopted mental health director position. I have had the opportunity to serve on our district’s Health and Wellness Committee and have learned how much effort is targeted towards mental health with the help of our Student Services, our school nurses, our school psychologists, and our County Health Services. I will continue to support all of these services and encourage our mental health experts to look for supplemental programs that would be beneficial to our community.

COVID has significantly affected schools in the past two years. What are your thoughts/positions on COVID protocols?

First of all, I would like to state that, along with healthcare workers, our students and our teachers sacrificed the most during the COVID shutdowns of 2020/2021. I am tired of watching the hypocrisies of many of the leaders in the state as they kept schools closed and bars and restaurants open. I cringed when I saw those same leaders in crowded, public places without masks, while requiring students as young as four-years-old to wear masks six-eight hours at a time. The closing of our schools has created academic, social, and emotional gaps that will last—for some students—well into adulthood. It is my greatest priority to keep schools open with mask choice for families.

Historically, the county has made all health decisions regarding masks, school closures and vaccines and we have complied with their mandates. I am extremely hopeful that the worst of COVID is behind us and that we will not have directives from the county or state. I will continue to advocate for our students at county and state levels to be free to learn, in-person and mask-choice if necessary.

Our most vulnerable students were affected the most during the past few years and it is my goal to support teachers and families to get their students the help they need whether it’s social, emotional or academic supports.

What is your position on CRT? (Critical Race Theory)

I can speak with certainty that CRT is not part of the approved curriculum in our schools. CRT is a graduate level theory that states that U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race.

I do believe, however, that the teaching of American History should be taught at developmentally appropriate levels. I believe that learning this history and advancing civil rights for all Americans is an important part of US History. I believe in promoting a common culture based on understanding, fairness and humanity.

I stand for and support freedom of speech and respectful disagreement. I am tolerant of a diversity of thought and ideology. I seek to treat everyone equally and reject the denigration of people based on their immutable characteristics or circumstances of their birth. I seek to understand opinions of those I may disagree with. I recognize that every person has a unique identity and that our shared humanity is worth fighting for.

What's your position on International Baccalaureate?

International Baccalaureate: We currently have an IB program at Joe Michell with an extension for 9th- 12th grades at Granada High School. I believe the IB program to be rigorous and an exciting addition to our district. The IB program graduates students who are world citizens with skills in language and diplomacy. I would continue to support this program in our district as long as we can fill the classes and continue to increase our IB graduates.

Career Planning: I think that especially with current job market trends, career planning is essential. Both high schools have career counselors who assist students with career choices, college applications and requirements, CTE (Career Technical Education) courses and ROP (Regional Occupational Program). My daughter was able to participate in GetSet (Girls Exploring Technology, Science and Engineering Together) which is a Tri-Valley program offered through the counseling center. It was through experiences in this group, and with the encouragement of an amazing teacher, that she is now studying engineering in college. We need to continue to make sure this career counseling is effective and that all students have a chance to participate in career and college advice. I have had the opportunity to serve on the ROP Board over the past three years which encompasses our CTE courses, ROP courses, and Middle College. There are many opportunities for our students to prepare for “Careers by choice, not by chance.” In the current job market, there are many hands-on trades skills that are in high demand. We have apprenticeship opportunities, classes and pathways that work towards careers or trade school right after graduation. I fully support these pathways and will continue to support these alternative options to a traditional “college” experience.

Do you think Livermore schools are safe and secure? Would you favor arming teachers?

I believe Livermore schools are safe and secure. Besides careful monitoring of who is on campus, the LVJUSD’s adoption of Scarlet Lewis’s school violence prevention program, “Choose Love,” is integral to the physical, social and emotional safety of our children. This program gives students the skills to become more self-aware, to develop a positive attitude and to choose love in any circumstance. I believe that this kind of learning is as important to the safety of our schools as physical security and on-sight officers.

I would not be in favor of arming teachers.

At one point, the district was asked to become a sanctuary district. What is your view or support of the idea?

I would refer to, and agree with, the district policy on this item which is clearly stated by Dr. Bowers that All Kids are Our Kids. This policy asserts that LVJUSD is committed to the success, safety, inclusive and welcoming learning environment.

Do you believe the arts are important along with science, technology, engineering and math?

As I stated before, I have a master’s degree in Literature and therefore agree that the arts are very important to a learning community. My kids have been involved in the choir, plays and musicals at LHS. I believe that these enriching activities are essential to a balanced education. We are also privileged to live in a community that appreciates art, music and theater—and the LVPAC offers our students lots of opportunities to appreciate the arts. I strongly believe that the collaboration between this organization and our children’s education is essential.

If the budget calls for cuts, which programs would you cut, or would you increase class sizes?

If asked to make budget cuts, before increasing class sizes or cutting programs that work, I would aim for more productive classrooms. Online and “blended” school programs can be innovative and catalysts for student engagement, individualization and achievement. I would also want to assess programs that are in place and determine whether they are effective or not. Programs that aren’t working should be cut. I would also want to examine positions within the district offices and determine their usefulness before making teacher cuts or cuts within the schools and classrooms.

Do you think the district has done enough for the minority population?

I have looked at the district’s SARC reports for each school and I can see that there is a gap between English Learners and the rest of the population. I read through SPSA (Single Plan for Student Achievement) documents for the schools and noticed performance gaps in the EL population and that the EL discrepancies are large and continue to move downward. I know there are a lot of policies and programs in place to help EL students in our district. Perhaps it’s time for an audit of these programs to figure out how we can close the gap. COVID widened these gaps and our EL students need more supports than ever. I support all initiatives to assist our English Learners and also support a robust parent engagement within the EL community with plenty of assistance with language, technology, and information.

Contact Emily