Culver City School Board Election is November 3: Who Are You Voting For?

The Culver City School Board Election is November 3, and the electioneering is heating up. This week I received three endorsement letters, including one from Culver City School Board Vice President (and actual rocket scientist) Steve Levin. 

As Levin points out, there are three candidates -- Scott McVarish, Anne Burke and Kelly Kent -- running for two open seats. My hope is that these unsolicited and, at times, very passionate letters will help you decide candidates deserve your vote.

If you have an opinion on the matter (and I know many of you do), please use the comments section below to share them with your fellow Culver City Times readers.

Here's Steve Levin's letter:

"Just a reminder about the November 3 school board election. If you vote by mail, you should receive your absentee ballot any time now.  (I received mine today.)  Laura Chardiet and Nancy Goldberg both decided not to run for re-election, and there are 3 candidates running for the 2 open seats. All 3 candidates are good people, and I’d be comfortable with any of them as colleagues on the board.  However, when I mail my ballot tomorrow, I will be voting for Scott McVarish and Anne Burke, so I wanted to tell you why:

"I have seen both Scott and Anne at numerous school board meetings, bond workshops, etc. for years, beginning before I ran for school board myself. They were both active in the campaign to develop and pass the school bond, and have been paying attention to the details of the bond and capital projects it will pay for. Since a big part of the board’s work over the next few years will involve decisions about how to spend that money wisely, I think it’s important that Anne and Scott are already familiar with many of the issues.

"In addition, Scott and Anne have put forth some promising ideas, while simultaneously recognizing that we’ve been asking teachers and staff to handle a lot of change for the last couple of years, so they need time to strengthen and deepen the current improvements before we embark on more.  Anne brings a perspective about counseling and the human side of education, and she will also add diversity to the board.  Scott will bring an analytical approach and an appreciation for the multiple needs of a wide variety of students, including those who will pursue a career after high school as well as those for whom college is the right choice."

Here's the one I received from Madeline Ehrlich, former School Board member and president, and Paul Ehrlich

"My fellow taxpayers, we just left the School Board candidates forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, broadcast from City Hall. There are three candidates for two open seats. For about the last two years, by far the most important issue has been the passage of the bond. In June of 2014, by about a ¾ margin, it passed successfully. The BOND measure allows the School District to spend $106,000,000 to upgrade health and safety conditions to protect our children and employees and to upgrade infrastructure, including modern infrastructure technology. We taxpayers pay for this AND interest through real estate taxes. This means nearly a quarter billion dollars you and we must pay out of our pockets.

"As taxpayers, we were eager to learn what the candidates had to say and what they would do for the decisions that need to be reached now that the district has access to all that money.

"Anne Burke and Scott McVarish:

  • supported, endorsed AND proudly voted FOR the bond.
  • have been actively working with the School District for the last 2 years in the bond sub-committee meeting,
  • interviewed the principals and staff at all school sites about each school’s condition.

"Anne pointed out that the deadline for decision-making is fast approaching. Choosing contractors, architects, making district-wide construction standards, issuing competitive contracts are examples of informed Board decisions.  She said that major work must be done in June, July and August of 2016 while the schools are closed. She promised to work closely with the Division of State Architects in Sacramento to shorten up the approval process.

"What came out of the forum shows that Kelly Kent is well formally educated, sincere and well meaning. Scott and Anne pointed out, however, that Kelly Kent:

  • Never supported our bond measure,
  • Did not endorse our bond measure,
  • Did not vote for our bond measure,
  • Never went or participated in any bond sub-committee meetings, bond advisory meetings or bond oversight meetings.

"None of her campaign literature even mentions the bond!

"As in this and all prior forums the usual question came up, “What is the role of a School Board member?” I was expecting the standard, usual, memorized answer from all three candidates: making & reviewing policy, working with the superintendent, negotiating salary and work conditions with employees, budgets, and spending a large amount of time working on bond decisions. Instead Kelly declined to answer this fundamental question and “passed!” Again Kelly had a second opportunity to explain what the roll of a School Board member is, but again failed to follow up.

"My fellow taxpayers, in choosing a candidate for School Board, should you trust Kelly Kent or any candidate to spend our quarter billion tax dollars wisely? Can we allow her possibly to delay making critical and urgent decisions because she has not taken the time to be informed?"

And one I received from Jamie Wallace:

"Anne Burke and Scott McVarish will make excellent additions to the School Board. Our current board is hip-deep handling the allocation of school bond funds. Anne and Scott are ready to jump in and join them. Through their involvement with the facilities assessments and bond workshops, and attendance at School Board meetings, Anne and Scott have really done their homework and understand the intricacies of the bond and the construction challenges ahead. As a member of the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee I know how complex the bond issues are, but I am sure they can hit the ground running.

"These two candidates will fit right in with the future of education in Culver City. It is time to bring all of our students the education they so deserve, whether they are going off to college or vocational work. The current school board is preparing the pathways already, and I believe that Burke and McVarish will fit in seamlessly, allowing all of the improvements, physical and educational, to go forward. They both support the development of career path academies in science, technology, trades, business and leadership. The future looks bright with Burke and McVarish joining the team. I urge all citizens to remember to vote on Nov. 3."

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