School Board 1W

School board applicant Madhavi Sunder, left, smiles Thursday evening as the vote tally reveals she is a finalist for the trustee position. Also pictured are fellow applicants Jose Granda, center; Barbara Archer, behind in black; and Robert Poppenga, right. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

Local News

Three school board hopefuls advance

By From page A1 | May 02, 2014

Applicants Alan Fernandes, Barbara Archer and Madhavi Sunder advanced Thursday to the second round of consideration for appointment to the Davis Board of Education.

The four current trustees needed only a single ballot to winnow the field of eight applicants down to three finalists, with Fernandes earning a vote from each trustee and Archer and Sunder capturing three votes each.

But it is not clear when the school board will meet to interview the finalists and make its selection, with the appointee serving until a November special election that will fill the remaining two years of the term. A board meeting had been scheduled for next Thursday, but trustee Tim Taylor said he may have a schedule conflict.

If Taylor cannot participate Thursday, the special meeting will take place Monday evening instead. A decision was to be made this afternoon.

The vacancy was created by the abrupt resignation in March of trustee Nancy Peterson, who was embroiled in a dispute over the hiring of the boys volleyball coach at Davis High School.

Each of the eight applicants — Tom Adams, Archer, Fernandes, Jose Granda, B.J. Kline, Robert Poppenga, Chuck Rairdan and Sunder — made a three-minute presentation to the board.

Then the trustees were asked to vote for three applicants to come back next week as finalists. Trustees Sheila Allen and Gina Daleiden picked Archer, Fernandes and Sunder. Trustee Susan Lovenburg chose Adams, Archer and Fernandes. And Taylor selected Adams, Fernandes and Sunder.

These votes are reported in alphabetical order; the trustees did not cast their ballots in rank order.

Fernandes, who works as the chief legislative advocate for Los Angeles County at the state Capitol, stressed several points in his pitch to the board. He spoke of his volunteer work with several local organizations, ranging from School Site Council to Little League coach, and of the “fresh perspective” he had gained as a candidate in the 2012 school board election, speaking to various local groups and constituencies.

(Fernandes finished third in that race for two seats, which were won by Lovenburg and Peterson.)

He also mentioned his role as the father of two elementary school-age children, his professional background as a lawyer, his recent service on the school district’s Strategic Planning Committee as well as volunteer work as a member of city and county commissions.

Fernandes also pointed out that he has lived in Davis since his days as a university student. “I have a deep understanding of how our community fits together,” Fernandes said.

Blair Howard, president of the Davis Teachers Association, said the DTA supports Fernandes, whom the teachers union had endorsed in 2012.

Sunder spoke of her 15 years on the faculty at the UC Davis School of Law, as well as her previous experience as a student at Harvard and Stanford.

“I seek this appointment because I have a deep commitment to the promise of public schools, the engine that makes our country the land of opportunity, where every child has an opportunity to explore, learn and reach her full potential,” she said.

Noting the district’s diverse enrollment — “from migrant children to the children of Ph.D.s” — Sunder said this “calls for a diversity of district programs,” ranging from two-language immersion to Montessori to King High to Spanish Immersion to AIM (the Alternative Instructional Model, formerly GATE).”

Sunder has two children in the district schools.

Archer, who works as a communications professional for a local organic produce service, described her involvement in school and school district governance over the past 10 years.

“I learned a lot about the district budget, and co-chaired a parcel tax campaign, and served on the parcel tax oversight committee,” she said. “I started attending school board meetings nine years ago, and have been a regular (attendee) this year.”

Archer, the parent of children in Davis schools, also mentioned her service on one of the action teams that was part of the district’s strategic plan process.

“With my experience and budget knowledge, I could hit the ground running” as a newly appointed trustee, Archer said.

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

Jeff Hudson

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