October 17, 2008
By Daniel Muñoz
The Chula Vista Elementary School District serves the City of Chula Vista, Bonita, Sunnyside, and South San Diego. It is a district with 44 schools and approximately 27,400 students. It is the largest district of its kind in the state and covers an area that is 103 square miles. Bonita which is 5.1 square miles with a population of about 12,500 with four schools as a part of the district and is home to all five school board members!
It is this lack of geographical diversity with all the influence concentrated in one small corner of the district that motivated Archie McAllister to run for Seat #2 on the Chula Vista Elementary School Board. This is not the only reason McAllister is running for this seat but it is the major reason.
This is not McAllister’s first run for office. In 2006 he ran for a seat on the Sweetwater Unified High School District Board, he received 40% of the vote losing to Greg Sandoval. In that same election year Cheryl Cox, who was then on the Chula Vista Elementary School Board, was elected the Mayor of Chula Vista. In 2007 McAllister applied for the vacant seat and was one of the nine finalists for the seat, out of 39 applicants.
It was during this appointment process to replace Cox that the geographical disparity came into focus.
The four sitting school board members whose responsibility it was to fill the vacancy all lived in Bonita. Despite a highly qualified pool of applicants who lived outside of the Bonita area, the school board chose another Bonita resident, David Bejarano.
This blatant disregard for geographical diversity not only outraged McAllister, but outraged many in the community. This geographic disparity motivated the community to put together a petition which over eleven hundred Chula Vista residents signed and an initiative was put forth to change the way board members are elected and to have future elected representatives come from throughout the district. The County Board of Education which had the power to put this initiative on the ballot deferred the initiative to the State Assembly which created the open seating system for the Chula Vista Elementary School District which has evolved into the system we have now.
Archie McAllister was one of main core of volunteers who worked on the campaign in writing the petition, gathering the signatures, and representing the parents and community members of the South Bay to address this issue. McAllister wants to continue representing the parents and community members as an elected representative of the Chula Vista Elementary School Board and bring geographical diversity to the school board.
McAllister has other issues and concerns for the district. “I live next door to Tiffany Elementary (in East Chula Vista) and my grandchildren are in elementary school,” stated McAllister. “I got involved with the school district with the budget action committee for two years and I have been on the School Site Council for three years, I am the School Site president, and I want to make sure that the children are ready for the new standards in Math and English.”
While McAllister brings a history of community involvement, he also has a wealth of educational experience working as a teacher in Chula Vista since 1993 teaching at Hilltop Middle, Hilltop Elementary, and Rosebank.”
As a teacher McAllister believes that the earlier you get the children into school the better. “I would like to be the champion for Project Head Start and get it involved more with district,” stated McAllister. “If the kids are learning at a younger age the chance for success are greatly improved. This would be especially true for the kids on the West side whose parents may not be able to afford pre-school for their children.”
McAllister also believes that the primary role of a school board member is to be accessibility to the people. He sees the lack of accessibility and the sense of elitism within the board as the great problems within the present school board and one which he will make a priority to change.
“I am willing to turn this into a fulltime position. Going out to the PTA meetings! Going out to the School Site Councils! Going out and meeting with the parents and trying to get them involved,” declared McAllister. “I think one of the problems is that there is no accessibility to the school board by the parents! When you go to a school board meeting you will see that they have pushed the parents segment to address the board to the end of the meeting. Parents have to wait till 10 o’clock to make their selves heard! They, the board, simply are not accessible for the people. When was the last time you saw any one of them on any of the campuses?”
Prior to becoming a teacher in Chula Vista McAllister served proudly in the Navy for 28 years retiring as a Lieutenant. He went to USC and earned his BA degree, and now is a fulltime grandparent who wants to see that his grandchildren are prepared for the future.
As his ballot statement says, “I am keenly aware of the issues that confront the Board. I am ready and willing to be YOUR VOICE, a LOUD VOICE, one that will bring Common Sense Attitude and Integrity to Seat #2.