Local News

Eight candidates seek appointment to vacant school board seat

By From page A1 | April 16, 2014


B.J. Kline

Eight candidates seeking appointment to a vacant seat on the Davis school board filed by Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline. The appointee, who will be selected at a special school board meeting on May 8, will serve until November, when the two years remaining in the term will be filled at a special election.

The vacancy was created by the surprise resignation in March by trustee Nancy Peterson.

The applicants are B.J. Kline, Tom Adams, Chuck Rairdan, Bob Poppenga, Jose Granda, Alan Fernandes, Barbara Archer and Madhavi Sunder.

* Kline served on the Davis school board from 2001 to 2005, a span that included construction of Montgomery Elementary, Harper Junior High and the Instructional Performing Arts Building at Davis High. He was previously active in several school PTAs.

Kline is seeking the six-month school board appointment. Unlike the other candidates, he does not plan to run in November.

“I would like to offer my experience, knowledge and leadership. Due to my previous experience on the board, I am able to step in to the position quickly,” he said in his candidacy papers. “I am a blue-collar manager … accomplished in the area of managing people, managing processes and procedures, and resolving conflict.”

* Adams has served since 2003 as the director of the Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division of the California Department of Education in Sacramento. He has been involved with multiple projects relating to the Common Core academic standards.

In the Davis schools, Adams served on the Site Council at Chávez Elementary from 2005 to 2012, including five years as chairman. He is currently on the Site Council at Emerson Junior High and recently served on the Assessment Subcommittee during the school district’s strategic planning process.

“A successful school board member needs to put aside his or her personal preferences and see that the first job is to establish an understanding of the facts and the decision-making process,” Adams wrote in his candidacy papers.

* Rairdan, who moved to Davis with his family in 1999, has held a sequence of administrative positions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and currently serves as chief of real estate acquisitions for the Corps’ South Pacific Division. Rairdan recently served on the school district’s Strategic Planning Committee, which he described as “an inspirational experience.”

“I would like to see a more inclusive and wider range of educational paths available to our students,” he wrote in his candidacy papers. “While high academic standards and expectations are important … the stigma of not being ‘college-bound’ needs to be addressed. Each student needs to be mentored and guided in finding the path for their individual interests, needs and talents.”

* Poppenga has been a professor of veterinary toxicology at UC Davis since 2004 and is the father of two students in the Davis schools. Prior to moving here, he was on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and at Michigan State. Poppenga recently served on the Professional Development Action Team as part of the school district’s strategic planning process.

Asked to describe the attributes of a good school board trustee, Poppenga wrote that these “include continuous listening, continuous questioning, continuous learning and continuous commitment,” adding, “I enjoy vigorous debate if done in a respectful and professional manner. As a university educator and scientist, lifelong learning and a commitment to educational excellence are part of my DNA.”

* Granda is a longtime member of the mechanical engineering faculty at Sacramento State and a frequent opponent of Davis school parcel tax measures. He was a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging aspects of the district’s 2012 parcel tax Measure E, which was settled out of court. Granda was an unsuccessful candidate for the board in 2012.

“I am an independent thinker. … I believe in quality education but also in fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers,” he wrote. “The school board needs a change. It has not handled the finances efficiently. It has run a structural deficit for years. … New leadership is needed.”

* Fernandes is the chief legislative representative for Los Angeles County in Sacramento and is the father of two students in the Davis schools. He recently served as a member of the school district’s Strategic Planning Committee and also has served on the district’s Parcel Tax Oversight Committee and on the Birch Lane Elementary Site Council, as well as the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Special Education. He was an unsuccessful candidate in 2012.

Fernandes wrote that a good school board trustee needs the “ability to collaborate and cooperate with others while also being able to parse out the key issues presented by a difficult problem. … I am a proven collaborator, consensus-builder and a person who listens to all viewpoints.”

* Archer, the mother of three students in the district, is a public relations professional. She was active with the Willett Elementary PTA for several years (including a term as president), serves currently with the Da Vinci Booster Club, and in 2011 was co-chair of the campaign for the Measure C school parcel tax.

“A board member should be curious about how district programs, systems and policies work,” she wrote, adding that a board member “must be a consensus-builder. … I like to keep an open mind and hear all perspectives. … I am solution-oriented and rational when discussing issues.”

* Sunder, the mother of two students in the district, is a longtime professor at the UC Davis School of Law. She was a leader in the campaign to name the elementary school in Mace Ranch after civil rights activist Fred Korematsu and recently served on one of the Action Teams in the school district’s strategic planning process.

“A trustee must be a community leader. … When difficult decisions must be made, the trustee must help educate the community and lead the community in discussion and toward consensus around solutions,” Sunder wrote. “A trustee must be guided by the best interests of all the district’s children, not just a select few.”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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