February 6, 2009
By Pablo Jaime Sáinz
The executive director of a non-profit social services agency has been appointed as the new member of the Chula Vista Elementary School District this week.
Douglas Luffborough III will serve the remaining two years of former board member Bertha Lopez’s term. Lopez was elected to the Sweetwater Union High School District board in November.
“I’m very excited to be part of a school board that values the education of our children,” Luffborough said after his appointment.
The district school board voted 3 to 1 to appoint Luffborough at a special meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 3, after a process where community input was taken into account and after receiving 23 applications for the position.
The board decided to appoint the new member instead of holding a special election that would’ve cost an estimated $600,000. The board publicly interviewed the seven finalists before selecting Luffborough for the seat.
During his interview and presentation to the board, Luffborough said that he was the best candidate for the job because he has a very special reason to become a board member: His daughter, who is a student at a school in the district.
“She is the first reason why I decided to apply for this seat,” he said. “I want her and all the children in the district to have the best education possible.”
That commitment and passion for his own children’s education is what impressed board member Russell Coronado and led him to vote for Luffborough for the position.
“As a parent myself, I saw that Douglas had the passion needed for this job,” Coronado said. “It’s not only about having the professional experience and the right credentials, it’s about having the love for our kids.”
Days earlier, Coronado said he sent out a massive e-mail to members of the community asking them for their input regarding the school board appointment. He said that having children in the district was one of the factors community members sought in the candidate.
“Since a special election is not being considered, community input at this stage is vital,” read Coronado’s e-mail. “ I believe that it is imperative that we gather as much information prior to the selection of this very important position....I would also encourage you to attend the February 3rd meeting. Along with your input and with collaboration, I believe that we will be able to make a decision that is open, honest and right for our school district and community.”
Board President Pamela Smith said that it was a difficult decision appointing just one person from the seven final candidates.
The other finalists were Pamela Bauer-Fischer, a lawyer; Hector Espinoza, a school administrator; Beatrice Fernandez, a resource teacher and parent coordinator; Carol Green, an instructional assistant; Mary Anne Stro, an educational consultant; and David Wallace, a business owner.
As executive director of the Turning the Hearts Center, Luffborough is in charge of programs in anger management, substance abuse, work readiness, and drop-out prevention.
Luffborough said that he had a rough time growing up.
He said he was homeless during his senior year in high school, that his father was absent from his early life, and that his family struggled financially.
Nevertheless, he said, he was able to attend Northeastern University, continuing on to Harvard University where he completed a Master of Education.