Roseville high school, Eureka candidates square off during forum
The importance of innovation and forward-thinking emerged as a common theme among candidates for two local school boards during a forum Thursday in Roseville.
The four candidates running for three seats for the Roseville Joint Union High School District and three candidates battling for two seats with the Eureka Union School District participated in a forum moderated by the League of Women Voters of Placer County for the Nov. 6 election.
About 60 people attended the event at Olympus Junior High School to hear candidates' responses on questions related to funding, tax measures, bullying, parent participation, parcel taxes and more.
Candidates for the high school district include incumbent Paige Stauss, who joined the board eight years ago and said she's most proud of how the district has managed its finances and implemented the International Baccalaureate program.
Incumbent Garry Genzlinger has also served on the board since 2004, after retiring from the district where he worked for 36 years. He originally ran because he felt the board had lost the focus and needed to get back to putting students first.
Jan Pinney joined the board 17 years ago. Throughout the evening, the incumbents made several remarks on how the current board works well together.
"We have the best board today we've ever had," Pinney said.
Rene Aguilera, who's served on the Roseville City School District board for the past decade, is challenging the incumbents.
"I represent the new generation of students that are coming up in Roseville," Aguilera said.
For the Eureka board, candidate Renee Nash said she's "running because our school district can be better and without the right leadership, it can also be worse."
Nash served seven years on the Eureka Schools Foundation board and said she's been integral in raising money for the district's enrichment programs.
Incumbent Ryan Jones said he has a vested interest in the district's future because has three children in local schools and a 9-month-old baby.
"I look at your kids the same way as my own kids: What can we do to provide the best education?" Jones said.
Kristie Greiss said she's running for re-election because she believes in the cause - the well-being of children and the community. She said in the past four years, Eureka has made several reforms.
"I've been part of the changes and I'd like the opportunity to continue in this positive direction that puts children first," Greiss said.
Disagreement over propositions
Although all seven candidates agreed that funding presents the biggest challenge in both districts, they didn't agree on how to address this issue.
Aguilera voiced his support for Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure, Proposition 30, and said the high school district will lose nearly $6 million if that fails.
"It's going to be devastating," Aguilera said.
Stauss said she supports Proposition 38, Molly Munger's initiative, "although it's not ideal." Greiss said the funding issue "should be resolved at the state level."
Greiss said Eureka has slashed millions of dollars by streamlining administrative costs, implementing electrical retrofits and other measures, but still need to find additional sources of revenue.
Nash said untapped revenue needs to be raised through private sources. She said she doesn't support either proposition because they likely contain loopholes and will lead to litigation. She prefers a local parcel tax.
Pinney and Genzlinger oppose both tax measures.
"I think giving more money to legislatures is like giving more alcohol to drunks," Pinney said.
Dysfunction on the board
Eureka candidates were asked about a leadership report conducted during the search for a permanent superintendent that found dysfunction on the school board. Superintendent Linda Rooney started in July, after three interims filled the top administrator role since Tim McCarty resigned in February 2011.
Nash said the board took too long to find Rooney, which created a sense of lack of leadership within the district. In another question on increasing parent participation, Nash said the district should purchase a microphone system because it's difficult to hear in the board room. She also said meetings run too long - sometimes going until midnight - which deters parents from attending.
Jones reiterated his support of Rooney and said the role of the board is not to micromanage but to create policies and provide the tools so teachers can do their jobs.
"I would love to have more parents at meetings so they know what's going on," Jones said.
Greiss said the board is responsible for being courteous, professional and open to public input.
Rooney previously told the Press Tribune that she had the board room reconfigured to make it more conducive to public participation.
The three high school incumbents said usually don't have many people at their meetings.
"If you don't have a lot of parents at your board meetings that's a good thing because that means they think you're taking care of business," Pinney said.
Sena Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.