Earlier in the year, Positively Osceola published an article that featured the six women who are running for the school board in Osceola County, a first for the School District of Osceola County. There are two men also running for seats on the school board, Will Fonseca, who is running for the District 4 seat, and Jim Nichols, who is running for the District 1 seat. We want to make sure we give them an opportunity to share who they are and why they are running as well. We asked the two men to answer the same questions and to address the same topics we asked of the female candidates. Here is what Will “Coach” Fonseca, candidate for District Four, shared with us:
Who you are – a little about you, your family, your past, and how it has brought you to where you are now
Osceola County is where I met my high school sweetheart Lucy, who became my wife. We both graduated from Gateway High School, Go Panthers! Osceola County is where we raised my three children, my son Ryko, my daughter Leilany, and my niece Jasmin, who I have raised through her high school years. Leilany has recently been blessed with being accepted to the Osceola County School for the Arts.
My father has worked in the electrical and construction field for more than 30 years, and my mother has devoted the last 20+ years of her life working for the Osceola Council on Aging. In my free time, I partner with her to help seniors visiting for the day and sometimes deliver meals on wheels to the seniors at home.
I have coached local youth organizations for about 15 years and have sat on various boards in the city, county and the school district. I have always been involved through community service with organizations such as Special Olympics and the Council on Aging. My older brother Frankie has been an athlete for the Special Olympics since I was a young kid and serves as an inspiration for my entry into coaching. To be completely honest, I can say that my brother instilled the passion of service in me as there are always people in society who are less fortunate and can use a hand up. With Special Olympics, I have volunteered as a partner, coach, and committee member.
In recent years I have sat on the Osceola County School District SRO School Resource Officer Task Force, Osceola County Charter Review Board, and the City of Kissimmee’s Board of Adjustments. My professional experience includes business management, consulting, insurance, marketing, investing, and real estate. I have worked with people in helping improve their credit scores and financial standing to qualify for mortgages and have managed businesses with a multi-million-dollar budget. I have been blessed and would like to pass on that experience by working for you on the school board. I believe in being student-focused with a common-sense business approach.
2. Why you are running – what motivated you to run for the school board? Why do you think you can make a difference by being on the board?
I am a father of a son who is a student athlete, a daughter who attends Osceola County School for the Arts, and my niece who lives with us just graduated from Toho High School. I take pride in being a father-like figure to many as a coach because every athlete is a part of the team that trains together on the field and works equally hard to be respectful citizens off the field. As the only candidate to be endorsed by the Osceola County Education Association, I understand the impact teachers and paraprofessionals have on our children. I also realize that there is rampant growth in the county and the district needs solid leadership to make sure that students and staff have everything they need to be successful. As a mortgage loan officer, I see first-hand the need for financial education and understand the role of proper budgeting habits.
After many hours of research and conversations, I realized the need to heed the same advice I preach to my student athletes, “when you see something that needs to be done, don’t be a bystander, be the one that takes action.” I refuse to live my life on the sidelines and I am willing to put my hat in the ring and fight for a better tomorrow. It starts with our kids and their education is the pathway to success.
As a coach who teaches multiple sports and as a community leader who sits on different local government boards, I am ready to make a difference for the education of our children. For these reasons, I have decided to run.
One thing is certain after this election. There are 2 boards members that will be sitting on the board, Julius Melendez and Jon Arguello. I have sat with both of them and feel that I can be a great addition to the board where we can refocus on doing what’s right for the students, parents, and staff. The board’s ability to work well together will be key, and using my professional and coaching experience can help us navigate the future.
3. What your positions are on the following:
* Teacher and professional support staff pay
Teachers are the backbone of education. Being a teacher in today’s climate is significantly different compared to ten years ago. Our current educators have persevered through a pandemic which brought online classes, multiple state law changes, and numerous student social and emotional challenges. Our educators include para- professionals that demand real change and authentic support. I support retaining and respecting new and experienced educators through meaningful reforms. Together, everyone achieves more.
Critical race THEORY (CRT) is a cross-disciplinary intellectual and social movement of civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to examine the intersection of race, society, and law in the United States and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice.
CRT should not be taught in our K-12 schools as I believe this theory should remain at the college level. If any parent has a concern, then the district should have a process in place for filling out a formal or an anonymous complaint, and having the issue addressed.
* COVID-19 management
I believe we are on the tail end of COVID, yet it is still a good idea to always practice safe cleaning habits. In additional to physical health, we have to address the mental and academic challenges COVID left behind. The district should be providing the proper support and programs needed to catch students up and make sure each school has a full compliment of staff that includes mental health specialists.
* Addressing school growth – facilities – Attracting more teachers
Our focus needs to be equally focused on staff recruitment and retention, especially veteran teachers that have been in the district for more than ten years. I understand the Governor wanted to increase the starting salary of our teachers, but we cannot forget our veteran teachers. I believe in longevity pay in some form as an incentive and thank you for their dedicated service. When a new teacher is starting in what we hope as a lifelong career, they should be welcomed by an experienced teacher that feels that the district has done everything in their power to lookout for them.
Also, this past year has been a tremendous strain on the transportation department. Students can’t learn if they are not in school. We need to pay our bus drivers more and equip them with rotating attendants to monitor discipline on buses that request it while they focus on safely driving on the road.
* SRO’s in schools
As a former member of the SRO committee and security agency owner I learned so much about the current pressures of the SRO. With an increase of school shootings across the country, protecting our children is paramount. SRO’s wear many hats beyond protecting the campus which include being a mentor, an active participant in school activities, performing traffic control, administering drug tests, teaching brief courses on gang activity, drug abuse, sexual assault, etc.
I personally know of many staff members, parents, and myself included, appreciate the work that our SRO’s perform on a daily basis. SRO’s belong on every campus and should be actively engaging with all students to promote a positive relationship with law enforcement – their only interaction should not just be when they are in trouble.
* Additional comments and goals you have
I feel that my commonsense approach to finding solutions and my lifelong commitment to the community, will not only benefit our students, but our district and our county. Our students, parents and our teachers deserve the best, and I intend to deliver that. I humbly ask and hope that you support me as I embark on this journey.
Thank you and God bless you.