Chula Vista Elementary School Board is in the process of filling the seat vacated by Cheryl Cox upon her election as the mayor for Chula Vista. Cox’s term on the school board has two years remaining. The school board determined that they would fill the open seat through an appointment process and towards this end 39 people filed applications to be considered.
39 people applying to fill one seat is an inordinate amount of people but, this bodes well for the district in that it presents a diverse pool with some very qualified applicants from which the board members have to choose. On Tuesday, January 16, the board will announce the 10 members selected from this pool of candidates to be interviewed at a public meeting with date and time to be determined. Of these ten, one will be chosen to fill the vacancy.
This appointment opportunity presents a unique opportunity for the board to address several pressing needs. In our opinion the most glaring need is for a community representative sitting on the board. For years now, this board has had a strong educator point of view represented by Cox an educator, Patrick Judd a superintendent in the Mt. Empire school district, and Bertha Lopez an educator. Larry Cunningham is married to an educator in the district. What has been missing, with all due respect to Pamela Smith, who rounds out the school board, has been a strong advocate representing the community perspective. This, in our opinion is why we see so many residents applying to fill this role.
Over the years, community members have complained about the lack of involvement from the board in the community and the lack of response from their board members to their concerns. This lack of response has seen huge public outcry and negative media coverage over the teacher transfers at Castle Park Elementary and the replacement of a popular principal at Heritage Elementary. The school board sequestered themselves on these issues and refused to hold public meetings or attend the various public meetings to discuss the issues.
We believe the school board can address the community’s desire by making it a priority to seek candidates who have strong ties within the community, have an understanding of the complexities of educating our children, who have children attending school in the district, and who in the past have demonstrated that education is their priority. And we entrust that the board will weed out those who seek this position as merely a political stepping stone to higher office or see this position as an adjunct to their profession.
We also see this as a unique opportunity to appoint a board member who does not reside in Bonita. At present all board members live in Bonita which means that there is no representation from the rest of the Chula Vista community. Further, as incumbent board members having never lost an election, that we can recall, it would be prudent to have representation from the West side of Chula Vista to represent the rest of the City. To select yet another resident from Bonita would be wrong and arrogant in light of all the qualified Chula Vistan candidates who have applied for this position.
Let us hope that the Chula Vista Elementary School Board takes this opportunity to find the best candidate for this position who will put the education of the students first and who will fulfill the role of a school board representative which is, being the voice of community!