By: Agnessa Kasumyan
In just a few weeks, on April 5, the city will be voting for candidates to fill the two available seats on the Board of Education.
There are eight candidates running in the election: incumbents Mary Boger and Nayiri Nahabedian, and Daniel Cabrera, Ami Fox, Jennifer Freemon, Ingrid Gunnell, Todd Hunt, and Vahik Satoorian.
For Boger, serving on the school board has been her “life” and “passion” for the past eight years, as she has vigorously dedicated herself to making sure public education serves its students properly. Her main concern is with the budget, as the district is going to be faced with more cuts. She strongly believes that the district needs to improve the achievement gap in schools, particularly the Hispanic sub-group because the Latino population in California is expected to grow to 50 percent.
For Nahabedian, public education is the only institution in the United States that gives every child an equal opportunity to be successful. She is very concerned with bullying in schools, and having moved to the U.S in seventh grade, she can relate to students who want to feel a sense of belonging.
Hunt, senior vice president for a software development company called Vertical Management Systems, previously ran for the Board of Education in 2007, but lost by 230 votes. Because he has built rapport with different organizations in the community, he thinks that he will be able to help lay the foundation for better communication more smoothly.
Likewise, Freemon believes that the school board needs to improve its communication with parents, teachers, and the community and council. Her vision is to see the Board of Education members communicating and distributing information more clearly to parents and the community, and would like to see the district working with parents, teachers, community and council members to find solutions to major issues.
A graduate from UCLA, Satoorian believes that he can provide the district with adequate financial advice with his 25-year experience as a Certified Public Accountant in order to better plan out the district budget. A major concern of his is that the district needs to improve relations with the teachers’ union which he thinks can be solved through communication and cooperation.
Fox who taught at Crescenta Valley High School for five years, said that her primary goal is to prevent increases in class size “so it would not become like LAUSD.” If elected to the Board, she plans to straighten out the district’s financial priorities, including cutting expensive standardized tests given to lower elementary students and installing awning windows (windows hinged along the top edge) in classrooms to save energy costs.
Gunnell, a Hoover alum, is a teacher at Lane Elementary in Monterey Park. She is an advocate for Governor Brown’s budget proposal for the June ballot because it would support “a high quality public education.”Gunnell also hopes to balance the administrator and teacher salaries.
Cabrera taught English for eight years before retiring. His main concern lie with the safety of students in schools, which he finds are even more important than academics because eventually there will be an emergency. Because extracurricular activities including Athletics, Band, and Drama will be affected before teacher salaries and classroom cuts, Cabrera would like to hear from parents and students to make sure they know how the budget crisis is being handled.
Except for Fox and Gunnell, all candidates have taken a decisive stance on Measure S, which is a bond that will allow more classrooms to be built and technology in schools to be updated.
The only candidate opposed to it is Freemon. Although she believes that Measure S is not a bad idea, she finds that the district needs to be “clearer in our vision” as the district budget is “on a shortfall.” Because Measure S funds will only allow money to be used to build more classrooms, classroom sizes per students will remain high.
Hunt, however, believes that Measure S is a necessary bond as it will allow better technology to be instilled in school, and with his experience in a software company, he believes he will be able to advise the district on how to allocate funds from the measure accurately. Boger likewise believes that it is essential for the measure to be passed because not only would it allow the technology in classrooms to be upgraded, but it will also allow the district to free up reserves of about up to $20 million, which can be used to stop further cuts from classrooms.
Cabrera and Satoorian agree technology in classrooms needs to be upgraded for a faster and more efficient learning process, and Measure S will provide the adequate funds.
School Board President Greg Krikorian would like incoming members to be committed to serving on the school board. He believes that being a board member requires one to be dedicated to serving public education and not one’s political career.