For homebuyers, South Pasadena has many attractive attributes: beautiful houses line South Pasadena’s streets, stores and restaurants are walkable, and a strong community bands the city together. However for many families, South Pasadena’s public school district remains the top reason for their interest within the town. As someone who moved to South Pasadena for that very reason alone, I can now say, as a senior, that it has been well-worth it.
Although I am aware of the high-caliber public education that I have received, I often take for granted the effort that different members of the community give. After recently meeting with school board member Julie Giulioni, I was finally able to truly attach the great quality of our school district to a tangible face.
Giulioni, who is finishing up a five year term, in many ways epitomizes what I think of as a truly caring South Pasadena citizen.
“I grew up here, I went to Marengo, the junior high school, and the high school – and like most 18 year olds who grew up in South Pas, I couldn’t wait to get out of my small town.” Giulioni said. “But when my son was getting ready to go into first grade, I couldn’t wait to get back to this town. I could not imagine myself raising my family anywhere else.”
Like many, as she went through her adult life, she carried an admiration for the tools she learned as a student.
“Everyday, I know that I am using the skills and sensibilities that I developed here in South Pasadena. And I have seen my kids thrive after going through the school district.”
After watching her kids flourish in college and in the workplace, Giulioni has decided to give back.
“It’s a little bit of a love letter and a thank you to a place that has contributed so greatly to myself.” said Giulioni in regard to her service on the board.
As the co-founder of DesignArounds, a firm that focuses on consulting, training, and development, Giulioni has a special edge in the way that she is able to address issues in the school district. At work, she consults with clients in order to find creative solutions to their issues. In the school district, she uses these fundamental skills to remain in touch with the community while bringing a curious approach to solving issues and improving education.
In her time with the board, these approaches have paid large dividends.
As a district, South Pasadena sits in the bottom 10% in terms of per-pupil funding. So in order to fight for fair base funding, the board used a creative approach to band together with other districts.
“When I was president of the board we forged a coalition of school districts who share our particular challenge, and actually hire a lobbyist and have been working on the state and national level to raise attention for the need for educational funding.” said Giulioni.
And in the course of her first term, she has helped the board to make great improvements in a number of different areas. These achievements include implementing common core, ending deficit spending, implementing dual language immersion, passing a third Parcel Tax, and securing a 98 million dollar bond measure to modernize and build out facilities. Alongside different reforms, she and the board were able to improve focus on student’s social and emotional well-being, safety, professional development, and parent/community involvement.
With elections approaching, Giulioni remains as determined as ever to continue the exponential progress that South Pasadena has seen in the last five years. She remains committed to seeing through new advancements that the school board has been working on like digital citizenship course, new science standards, and project lead the way courses.