Four months after finance professional Minh Ngo won a seat on the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) Board of Education in a special election, Ngo is delivering on his promise to run for a full term on the board.
Ngo, a division supervisor manager at Bank of America Merryl Lynch, has three kids, one of whom attends Rose Elementary School. He is active in the school’s parent-teacher organization and on its school-site council. His priorities include responsible educational spending, pushing policies to help homeless students, supporting early childhood development, promoting STEM and STEAM education, and advocating for culturally competent instruction for students and teachers.
This time around, Ngo, like his board colleagues, has had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic upending many of the district’s plans, forcing all schools to turn to distance learning for the foreseeable future. Ngo is hoping his experience with virtual transactions in the financial world can aid him in devising a framework for distance learning.
“Part of it [distance learning] is understanding the technology needs,” said Ngo. “And understanding that it isn’t necessarily the parents being the teachers. They’re really being moderators. Teachers are still going to teach.”
He encouraged parents to take on the role of moderators to ensure their children are signing in and “engaging with their teachers.”
COVID-19 has also caused the state to shift its budget priorities in accordance with its pandemic response, leaving far less money for the state’s public school districts. In response, MUSD has been forced to dip into its reserve funds to keep its budget balanced. Ngo, however, remains optimistic that he and the rest of the board can figure out a way to preserve the district’s high quality of education and staff in spite of budget shortfalls.
“I’m going to lean heavily on my background on finance on figuring out how we can balance our budget,” said Ngo. “Making sure we don’t lose teachers or staff members. We’ve spent years building up the quality of instruction in our district, and to have budget cuts potentially eliminate positions, I don’t want to do that.”
Ngo won his current seat after defeating environmental commissioner Ling Kong in March’s special election. The special election was triggered after hundreds of residents protested the district’s decision to appoint Ngo to an empty seat on the board over Kong. Members from local advocacy groups Better Milpitas and South Bay Eco Citizens—a group Kong co-founded—successfully petitioned the Santa Clara County Board of Education to allow the special election.
While the special election is in the district’s rear-view mirror, Ngo says he is well aware of how the district could have handled the appointment with more transparency and a more detailed approach.
“One thing I’ve learned since is that public feedback is just so important,” complete with the public having the opportunity to speak out on behalf of any candidate, said Ngo. “That was the piece that caused the most outrage.”
Two seats on the Milpitas school board are up for grabs, including Ngo’s seat and that of Board President Hon Lien. As of press time, Ngo and Lien have declared their candidacies for the board.
Current position: Trustee, Milpitas Unified School District Board of Education
Running for: Trustee
Declared candidacy: July 1, 2020