Sunday, October 12, 2014

Endorsements 2014

It's election time, and like most folks in our community, I'm casting my ballot.  I don't pretend to be an expert in all things political, but I will share my thoughts on a couple of matters, given my close involvement with the schools over the past 5 years.

For LASD Board of Trustees:
Tamara Logan
Sangeeth Peruri
Vladamir Ivanovic

Tammy Logan has worked incredibly hard over the past 5 years to put the necessary ingredients in place for the success of our District.  She is a tireless voice for our students, and has been willing to challenge other board members when she felt we weren't doing the right thing.  Striking that balance is a delicate art, and Tammy has done it well.

Tammy also played a key role in the negotiations with BCS.  I was proud to have her as a partner in the final rounds over the summer.  The "peace treaty" that resulted was shaped in many ways by Tammy's thinking.

I am confident that Tammy will continue to be an asset for our students and our community, and I am excited to cast my ballot for her re-election.

Sangeeth Peruri is a relative new-comer to the LASD community.  His kids are younger, and he is not afraid to test the conventions of "how things have been done".  He has served ably in the Covington PTA, and has worked diligently on the LASD Citizens Advisory Council on Finance (CACF).   I have spent substantial time with Sangeeth over the past year as he tested our assumptions about the right path with BCS.  He has also built a substantial knowledge of our schools by engaging multiple points of view.   He is not afraid to throw himself into the work, which will help him ramp up on the board quickly.

Vladimir Ivanovic is another CACF member, and is the current CACF chair.  Over the years he has been a regular attendee at our board meetings.  He has put in the time to learn what the board is doing, why we've made the decisions we have made, and to share his own perspective when he felt it was important.  He is well versed in our financial status, which will be important as the District starts to wrestle with the expiration of the Measure E parcel tax and simultaneously increasing contributions to shore up state pensions.  His work also includes the Gardner Bullis Technology Committee, the GB Site Council, and a number of other groups.  He isn't a huge fan of public speaking, but I've always found his reasoning to be sound.  He is also a tireless advocate for open government, which remains important in our community.

I am not able to endorse Mathra McClatchey or John Swan for the LASD Board of Trustees.

Martha has been an active BCS parent for the entirety of my 5 years on the Board.  This doesn't disqualify someone outright, but it certainly raises questions about how well they know LASD.  I met with Martha to discuss specific issues, and found her knowledge of the LASD program to be lacking.  She instead proposed that her knowledge of what draws people away from LASD should be an asset.  I disagree.  I am also troubled by her direct involvement in the cloaking of expenditures by BCS.  She was the treasurer of the Bullis Foundation when BPEF was covertly signing checks to PR firms and lawyers.  When I asked her about these expenditures, she was quite clear that there is such a thing as "too much transparency".  I do not believe the community's interests are served by making off-book expenditures and hiding from the public how money is being spent.  As the old saying goes, "if you wouldn't do it in the light of day, you probably shouldn't be doing it at all."

John Swan is one of the original founding families at BCS.  Although his children have been out for a while, I see no evidence that he has remained active in K-8 education leadership.  He only recently started attending LASD Board meetings, so his learning curve would be steep.  John's editorials in the Town Crier seem to indicate that he feels LASD is broken in some significant way.  He complains about teachers in generic language more suited to big city school districts, not LASD.  His own children haven't attended an LASD elementary school since 2003, so I'm not sure on what basis he would make that assertion.  His editorials are rife with rhetoric from the charter movement about what is wrong with education, but it bears little resemblance to our award winning schools and exceptionally dedicated staff and administration.  John just doesn't seem to have a handle on what we are doing in our schools, and what makes them such a unique place for children to learn.  He lacks the context of how our schools work or how to best engage with our staff and parent community, and I believe that would be a significant barrier to being an effective board member.

Yes on Measure N  We desperately need to pass measure N, so that we can build more schools and update our existing facilities.  Although some districts go out every 5-7 years, it has been much longer than that for LASD.  We desperately need to pass this measure to keep up with our exploding enrollment.  It is essential to the successful model that has earned LASD national and international recognition as a top tier school district.

Each of the trustees I have endorsed would be excellent stewards for the Measure N funds.  They are committed to an open process to refine specific expenditures and I believe they will make wise use of our precious capital.  They seek public input, and understand the need to stretch our dollars.  That is exactly what we want as we embark on the first major expansion of the District in many years.

I thank all of these folks for their interest and their willingness to serve.  I believe that Tammy, Sangeeth, and Vladimir will serve our community well, and I encourage you to give them your full support.