For the New School Board: A Tough First Assignment

The race for the School Board is over. Maybe, kind of, sort of as the saying goes.

Incumbent Seth Rosenblatt got a return trip and tech executive Adam Rak earned his boarding ticket after a long campaign. That took care of the two seats that needed filling.

And then a double whammy happened on election night.

School Board trustees Mark Olbert won a seat on the city council and Carrie Du Bois’ dream came true: she’s graduating to The Sequoia Union High School District where she’ll get to work on the issues close to her heart, like kids who are struggling academically.

Their victories create two more seats on the school board. How to fill them is the big question.

After the election is officially certified, both Olbert and Du Bois must resign their positions.

When the school board meets on December 8th – with Rosenblatt, Rak and longtime trustee Beth Hunkapiller – it has 60 days to make a decision.

“We can either have an appointment process or call for a special election, but we need to unanimously agree on either,” said School Board trustee Seth Rosenblatt, adding if the board can’t agree the County Superintendent of Schools will call an election on its behalf.

Rosenblatt says going the appointment route “broadens the pool of candidates and costs less.” It’s a process all the same that includes public input and public interviews.

“The election path is the most open and accountable to the public and avoids the issue of an unearned incumbency in the next election,” Rosenblatt said.

San Carlos School Superintendent Craig Baker says a “very rough” estimate of a school board special election runs about $60,000.

“There are trade-offs whatever way you go….how long will an election take vs. the speediness of an appointment. The board is going to have to do some soul searching,” Baker said, adding he doesn’t have a strong opinion either way.

An election couldn’t be held until April or May, by all accounts, and that would mean the school board would meet with only three members until then. Meetings can only be held if three members attend. Translation: If someone can’t make it for any reason, the meeting is cancelled.

Incoming trustee Adam Rak says he doesn’t have a strong opinion at this point. “The board needs to sit down and decide the best course of action. We need to get feedback from other members based on their experience.”

While Mark Olbert will have moved on by then and won’t have anything to do with the decision, he has a definite opinion. As a school board member he once supported filling a slot through appointment and got “quite a lot of flak” for it. “My default position is to have an election…the public has a right to pick,” he said, adding that the high cost of a special election is just the “cost of doing business.”

Carrie Du Bois says the appointment process definitely broadens the pool of qualified candidates – especially women with young children – who are deterred by the time, money and energy it takes to run an election campaign.

The three member school board meets on December 8.

Since the school board wants to know what residents think (and the Laurel Street Spy does, too, of course) please take a moment to share your thoughts in a comment.

 

 

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  1. Sonya Sigler says:

    I think either way (appointment or special election) has its pros and cons. I trust the school board to do what is economically feasible and put together a good, functioning school board. I would lean towards adding new members soon rather than later so if waiting for a special election leaves us with a board of 3 until April or May, I would support the appointment process.

  2. [...] The choices: fill them by appointment or special election. Olbert makes his case for an election in the Mecury News. Click here to read. For a Laurel Street Spy background story on the school board dilemma, click here. [...]

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