The Santa Cruz County Board of Education has for decades made innumerable decisions that affect the lives of students.
Oscar Alvarez-Delgado, a 17-year-old senior from Pajaro Valley High School, was chosen from five applicants.
Santa Cruz County Office of Education Board President Bruce Van Allen said the new appointment reflects the board’s mission of putting students first.
“We care so much about the lives and the health and the learning and the futures of the students of this county,” he said.
County Superintendent of Schools Faris Sabbah, who swore in Alvarez-Delgado, agreed.
“The why of education and the why of the County Office of Education is students, and having a voice as part of the decision making process is absolutely fundamental,” Sabbah said. “It just seems so right and appropriate for us to have a student representative.”
Before he took his seat for the first time, Alvarez-Delgado said he was “excited and nervous.”
“Now that I’m here and I was chosen, I feel like this is an opportunity,” he said. “I can come forward and do a lot for the students here in the county and as well as some teachers who can have their voices be heard here too.”
Among the things he hopes to address is the inequities between schools.
“I want there to be equity so that everyone can be on the same level and everyone has the same resources,” he said.
Alvarez-Delgado is involved in the Youth Led Leadership Alliance, a student leadership network facilitated by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, and is a current member of both Youth for Environmental Action and the Youth Mental Health Leadership Council.
His appointment coincided with the swearing-in of a new Area 4 Trustee, Edward Estrada.
Alvarez-Delgado said his decision to apply for the position stems from a commitment to serving as a voice for underrepresented students.
“I want to bring awareness of the issues faced by the Latino community and the underrepresented and begin to address why we have such a lack of resources, and then to be able to build those up,” he said. “I believe that if we are willing to face the underlying issues, then we can begin to resolve some of the inequities across Santa Cruz County.”
Student trustees are recognized and seated as part of the Board and may present motions, make comments and ask questions of presenters.
While they cannot make votes that determine the outcome of board business, they can cast preferential votes.
The Santa Cruz County Board of Education adopted Board Policy 9150, creating the role of student trustee, in October 2022.
Estrada has held a number of positions advocating for LBGTQ+ youth. He previously served on the board of GLSEN San Diego, was a member of San Diego Unified School District’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, and was a youth ambassador for San Diego Pride.
Estrada said he applied for the position to advance an educational system based on equity, growth, community development and innovation.
“I am deeply passionate about equity,” said Estrada, who works as a Housing Navigator at Housing Matters where he assists unhoused veterans.
Trustee Area 4 encompasses Live Oak, Soquel and Capitola. The Area 4 trustee seat was vacated by Rose Filicetti, who resigned from the Board on Aug. 31 citing personal health reasons.
By TODD GUILD