Last week I wrote about the candidates for the Orinda Union School District governing board and their thoughts on the biggest challenge facing them if elected: the budget. Here’s the first of what will be five somewhat extended profiles of the candidates, in no particular order, starting with Tyson Krumholz.
Krumholz, 38, is a professional engineer and general contractor who’s family has a long history in the city of Orinda. Although he’s only lived in the city for three years, his sister grew up there and both his wife and his mother have taught at Orinda Intermediate School. He has two kids at Wagner Ranch Elementary School, where he’s volunteered on and off. He was also on the board of the Friends of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area.
“What initiated this particular quest (for school board) was when I enrolled my oldest in kindergarten three years ago. That September I decided to go check out the school board meetings to see who’s in charge of shaping his future, what the issues are,” Krumholz said. He’s been to “quite a few” board meetings since.
The biggest issue facing the district, he said, is the budget. People who live in the district donate their money and don’t want to see programs cut, Krumholz said, but also don’t want to pay any more taxes. He said he can bring a business perspective to the board, helping the district become more efficient and communicate more effectively with the community to tap into their knowledge and opinions.
Given the district’s financial situation, new board members must brace themselves for making additional cuts. But when asked about what cuts he would prioritize, Krumholz said he believes in spreading the cuts around by trimming multiple programs back rather than cutting a few completely.
“If you cut one thing entirely, you’ve just eliminated something of a capacity to a percentage of the children that was their thing,” he said. The board should also seek out federal and state grants, he added, and re-evaluate the district’s facilities maintenance budget.
Asked whether he would support another parcel tax, Krumholz said he was not opposed to it as long as the district does all it can to operate efficiently. But he also drew on his professional experience, saying, “I can’t go to a client and say, ‘It took me twice as long, give me more money.’” If the district is operating as efficiently as possible and communicates that to the community, he said, it’s easier to justify another parcel tax.
If elected, Krumholz will be one of three brand new members of the school board. But he said that will be a good thing, because it means the board will have an influx of fresh voices, which will lead not only to more dialogue but more listening.
“I’m thinking change is good and in the least it promotes more discussion and maybe more partnering,” Krumholz said.
Lastly, Krumholz said the district’s deal with Pulte Homes regarding the Pine Grove site was another issue that motivated him to get into the school board racing, adding his professional experience as a contractor would be valuable to have on the board during its dealings with Pulte.
“I think I can in the least listen and be able to articulate and help my fellow board members who may not be privy to the design (and) building process,” he said.