“Paul Bokota, a local businessman; Lauren Brooks, an educator and businesswoman; Margaret Brown, a school planning director; Omar Ezzeldine, chair of the city’s Finance Commission and an educator; Carolyn Inmon, a retired teacher; Michelle Ollada Alipio, a school nurse; incumbent and board president Michael Parham; Bob Vu, an educator, scientist and entrepreneur; and Deputy District Attorney Cyril Yu filed paperwork with the Orange County Registrar of Voters,” according to the O.C. Register.
Three incumbent board members Parham, Carolyn McInerney and Sue Kuwabara, were up for reelection, but only Parham pulled papers. That means two seats will be wide open.
Bokota says he has the endorsement of all 5 current IUSD School Board members, including Board President Michael Parham, Sharon Wallin, and Carolyn McInerney. His wife Wendy posted this comment on Facebook about the school board candidates:
Take a look at the nine candidates running for Irvine Unified School District School Board. Read their ballot statements at http://www.ocvote.com/voting/candidate-info/. Take note of who has had recent experience dealing with the school district’s budget combined with years of direct involvement with, and advocacy for, the schools, the teachers and the students. You will quickly discover that Michael Parham, Paul A. Bokota, and Lauren Schenkman Brooks have these qualifications and are best suited to be the next IUSD School Board members.
Wendy is the Director of Community Relations at the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.
So what do these candidates stand for? Here are a few excerpts from their candidates’ statements:
- Inmon: State cutbacks are hurting our students. That’s why I volunteered to Co-Chair the Support Our Schools (SOS) Initiative. Your “Yes” vote on Measure BB will permit the City to transfer millions of dollars to our schools – without new taxes – to reduce class size, hire teaching assistants and school nurses, and provide essential classroom supplies for our teachers and students.
- Alipio: As an educator and school nurse for a local school district, Michelle understands the inner-workings of how a school district operates. Her experience interacting with education stakeholders would be a valuable asset to our school board.
- Vu: My highest priorities are: Controlling the budget, Preparing our children to become next generation of innovators, Keeping Irvine schools world class.
- Yu: My wife and I chose to raise our two young daughters in Irvine because of its outstanding public schools. But state budget cuts have forced a decrease of over $38 million in funds to IUSD in recent years and our schools have hadto cut important programs, resources, and staff. This year IUSD faces the
potential of even deeper cuts and furloughs. That’s why I worked with others
in our community to qualify the Irvine Support Our Schools Initiative for the
ballot. The initiative will provide an additional $2.5 million annually to our
schools without raising new taxes.
- Ezzeldine:My name is Omar Ezzeldine. My experience as a career educator and long-time public servant will help the Irvine Unified School District “Grow Smart.” Irvine is committed to excellence in education and I will ensure that that commitment remains strong, especially as IUSD continues to grow under reduced state funding.
- Bokota: As your next Boardmember, I will: Protect programs that have differentiated Irvine Unified from other districts; Retain and attract top teachers; Provide complete accountability with all taxpayer dollars; Ensure Irvine Unified continues to offer a world-class education.
- Brooks: As your next Board Member, I will: Preserve Irvine’s high academic standards. Retain and attract top teachers. Ensure appropriate spending of taxpayer dollars. Protect programs that have differentiated Irvine Unified from other districts.
- Brown: As a former school administrator with 23 years of experience planning,funding, and constructing school facilities, I know full well the regulatory and
fiscal challenges that Irvine Unified continues to face. As we confront these
challenges, if elected I promise to balance our budget through thoughtful
discussion, remembering that our focus is on what’s best for students. We
must provide our students with the opportunity to achieve success.
- Parham: We can do more to satisfy the needs of each child. Many students need sports, music and other extracurricular activities to remain engaged. High test scores don’t always represent talent or promise, and we must actively develop all students to maximize their potential. After all, entrepreneurs and future job creators come in all shapes and sizes.
It is very difficult to ascertain much from the candidates’ statements. Go back to the second paragraph of this post. I linked each candidate’s name to their Facebook page or campaign website. Check them out, see who they are friends with and contact them if you have additional questions.
The biggest issue facing voters in Irvine this fall, as it regards the schools, is the Support our Schools measure which was placed on the ballot by the Irvine City Council. This measure will double the $1.5 million in annual support that Irvine already gives to area schools, however placing the measure on the ballot is going to cost the city $8,500.
Irvine Council Members Steven Choi and Jeff Lalloway were in favor of simply approving the measure without putting it to a vote, but Council Member Larry Agran and his Council majority, which includes Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang voted to put the measure on the ballot, even though that will just waste city money on a needless election. It appears that Agran is using the measure to grandstand, as he is a candidate for Mayor this November.
As it turns out, the measure is flawed. It does not allow Irvine school administrators to decide how to spend the money. Instead it includes provisions such as $500,000 for instructional assistants and $200,000 for school resource officers.
And, while the City of Irvine might have a general fund surplus now, that may not be the case in the future. The State of California canceled redevelopment and that means the City of Irvine will at some point be stuck with massive bond debt used to finance the Great Park. That bill is coming due and when that happens the City of Irvine will be quite broke.