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As filing deadline approaches, five candidates to vie for three seats on Mt. Diablo district board

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 at 8:20 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

By Theresa Harrington
Near the close of business today, the county elections office said five candidates had filed to run for three seats on the Mt. Diablo school board.
They are incumbent Linda Mayo and challengers Jeff Adams (who ran two years ago and lost), Lynne Dennler (a retired teacher), Roy Larkin and Brian Lawrence.
I have spoken to Mayo and Adams and have received a written statement from Larkin regarding his candidacy. After I reach Dennler and Lawrence, I will post information about all five candidates.
As you probably know, incumbents Paul Strange and Dick Allen have decided not to seek re-election. This means there will be no “board majority” after the election.
During the past two years, the “new” board majority included Strange, Gary Eberhart and Sherry Whitmarsh. Both Eberhart and Whitmarsh beat out former incumbent April Treece in 2008, upsetting the previous board majority that included Treece, Allen and Mayo.
Obviously, Eberhart and Whitmarsh will remain on the board for at least two more years. As far as I know, none of the challengers has allied himself or herself with either Eberhart and Whitmarsh, or Mayo.
Two years ago, the Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers’ union was a major force in the election, throwing heavy support behind Eberhart and Whitmarsh. It will be interesting to see if the union, which was snubbed by the board’s failure to roll over its contract, will endorse any of the candidates.
Although I am holding off on posting specific information about the candidates, I do have one tidbit that should interest the blogosphere: Jeff Adams says he is not “Dr. J.” In fact, Adams says he never heard of Dr. J and hasn’t read a blog in about two years.
Who do you support and why?

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  • Tired Parent

    I don’t know any of the candidates, Ms. Harrington. Please, get us as much information as you can on each person so we can make informed choices. A few questions I have are: How many children do you have in the District? Have you ever served on the PTA at your child’s school? Are you going to fight the State to get our children the funding the deserve or will we hear “our hands are tied” for the next four years?

  • Brian Lawrence

    I’m Brian Lawrence and I am a candidate for the MDUSD board. Like many of you, I’m extremely concerned about the state of our schools. My oldest child is about to enter kindergarten in the district. I’m committed to strong, transparent fiscal oversight and providing our children with every available resource to ensure their success.

    Ms. Harrington and I exchanged voice mail messages this evening and I look forward to speaking with her tomorrow.

  • Doctor J

    I think the better questions for the candidates are: What is your vision for MDUSD ? Will you require the Supt to develop a Strategic Plan for MDUSD ? How will you hold the Supt and staff accountable for the flood of “persistently underpeforming schools” — now six and will rise next week with the release of the STAR tests ? Will you seek to reverse the raises to the Gang of Five made in Nov 09 in the midst of layoffs, class size increases, furloughs to administrtors, reduction of hours of staff ? Will you require transparency in requiring competitive bidding for significant costs associated with Measure C bonds so it does not appear to reward donors to the campaign ?

  • Tired Parent

    Gee, Dr. J. Thank you for denigrating my questions. I feel so shallow and uneducated next to your far superior questioning skills.

  • Doctor J

    @TiredParent. Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. Of course we all want to know all we can about the candidates — but the bottom line is that what makes a good school board trustee doesn’t necessarily mean she/he have any children or ever have been on a PTA. Would that experience be helpful — sure, but not required. I would urge every voter to study what a school board trustee SHOULD be doing by reading
    School Board Leadership: The role and function of California School Boards found at the csba.org website.
    And then pick the candidates that the voter thinks will most closely fit that model identified by the California School Board Association. Apparently none of our current board has attended the CSBA training despite that the Grand Jury recommended 18 months ago [March 09] that the “current board” attend such training.

  • MDUSD Mom

    I agree that serving on a PTA is not essential. Ideally, both board members and the superintendent should have a combination of business and political skills, and knowledge about education issues.
    I disagree with Paul Strange’s comment on the claycord blog that the board should lead the superintendent, rather than the superintendent leading the board. What would be best for MDUSD and our students would be for the board and the superintendent to work together in sync.
    Tired Parent’s comment about “fight the State” is important. State funding is completely out of whack – MDUSD receives $5,000 per pupil and St. Helena for example receives $14,500 per pupil. There was a 2000 “Fairness In Funding” bill that passed the Legislature – Joan Buchanan, then on the San Ramon School Board, helped lobby to get it through the Legislature. Then it was vetoed by Gov. Davis.
    This crucial issue is one that Paul Strange has tried to communicate, through his blog and at board meetings.
    Can MDUSD parents and community unify to lobby for better State funding?

  • MDUSD Mom

    Correction – Paul Strange’s comment on mdusd parents blog (not claycord).
    By the way, I hope no one takes personal offense. I am thankful to mdusd parents and this blog because I believe they are more positive and productive. The goal seems to be to get this district moving in the right direction.

  • Doctor J

    @MDUSD Mom
    A Strategic Plan, like Seattleschools.org would unify the Board, the Supt, the staff, the community and the unions. There have been enough excuses given why we don’t have one — let’s get one.

  • MDUSD Mom

    Doctor J,
    I agree with you 100%.

  • Another MDUSD Mom

    I also agree with Dr. J and MDUSD Mom.

    I do not think involvement in a parent organization is essential in choosing a school board candidate. I do want to see a commitment to strategic planning and the communication necessary to make a strategic plan effective. The commitment to a strategic plan means that not only does the plan get done but it is the cornerstone for every decision going forward, it’s relevance is included in every proposed budget and it’s focus is on students first.

    The strategic plan should unify the board, the superintendent, and the community.

    I would also like to see a candidate who has business and financial experience. Someone who understands that just because the taxpayers are funding the debt service on the solar project it does not mean that there is none. Someone who knows that factoring in the cost of that debt service it part of determining the fiscal soundness of the project.

    I would like to see a board candidate with experience hiring people and who has the expertise to determine whether a Superintendent candidate possesses the skills and commitment to common issues important to the district.

    I would like a candidate who comes to the board with the goal of creating a collaborative governing body where every board member feels safe to state their views and where the focus is on creating a partnership with the Superintendent for the sole purpose of improving student acheievement. While I supported the last board majority, I was wrong. I hope we do not put that much power in the hands of so few this time around.