Occupation: Part owner of California MusicBox, which provides studio recording services and private music lessons during school and after school. Clients include LAUSD.
Political party: Declined to state
Experience: Executive board member of North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce since 2018. Former curriculum advisor for the Mediterranean nation of Cyprus’ Ministry of Education. A former Army band director. Father of a 2-year-old daughter.
Priorities: Funding from voter-approved Proposition 28 is supposed to increase access to music and arts education, but thus far “only 20% of California schools currently offer such programs. This raises concerns about two key areas: inadequate guidance and insufficient accountability. … It’s crucial to ensure those funds are used effectively, but it’s bigger than that. It’s about how the whole arts program is structured, how it engages students, and whether it truly unlocks the potential that lies within each and every kid.” Also wants to bolster special education and diversify/regulate charter schools.
On Supt. Carvalho: ”He shows promise, especially with [his] 4-year plan to boost academics. I like that everything he does is backed by data analytics. Despite initial administrative challenges, his energy/optimism shine through.”
On Schmerelson: Programs for students with disabilities lack “tailored instruction, hindering students’ potential.” Despite arts budget, “minimal funds reached schools or were implemented, depriving students of art and music.”
Charter schools: “A varied approach is essential. Kids excel in diverse environments with different learning styles. We need a healthy mix of schools: traditional, magnets, community schools, vocational schools and charter schools. … It’s important to carefully regulate and monitor the charter schools expansion to ensure that they are not siphoning resources.”
School police: “A comprehensive approach to school safety … could include a blend of law enforcement presence for security purposes, coupled with increased investment in mental health resources, counselors and restorative justice programs. … The presence of uniformed officers on campus seems reasonable to maintain security measures and provide a rapid response to potential threats. However, it’s crucial to implement additional measures that prioritize the well-being and support of students, thereby creating a balanced approach to school safety.”
Quote: As a first-grader, Farmakalidis was a struggling student with special needs, who at first doubted the benefit of music and art lessons. “But after a few hesitant months, something truly remarkable happened. The music, the colors, the creative expression — it unlocked something within me. Suddenly, I could focus, the numbers in math made sense, the words on the page sprang to life. I wasn’t just ‘fine,’ I was thriving. That’s when I realized the profound power of arts in education. It wasn’t just about grades or test scores; it was about igniting curiosity, nurturing creativity, and building confidence.”