Sweetwater board races provide an opportunity for a fresh start!

October 3, 2014

By Daniel Muñoz

Sweetwater Union High School District school board races are now district only elections, with all five board seats up for election. In the past editions of La Prensa we have covered four of the five district races. This week we are taking a look at Trustee Area 5.

In our introduction to this review we noted that this election would be an election marked by a host of first for the district and the community.

With all five board seats up for election, this would also be the first time in history where there is no sitting incumbent running for office, providing a troubled district a fresh perspective and an opportunity to turn the attention away from the year’s scandal.

The list of first includes the first time for district elections. For the first time ever there the newly elected board members will represent a specific district. The first time those candidates will have to run with campaign contribution limits. And, there will be a new Superintendent.

In our attempt to bring to our readers a bit of information about the candidates running for office in the Sweetwater High School District, we sent out a questioner to the candidates along with a request for their bios. Not all candidates returned the questioner. For those candidates who did, we condensed their answers and are providing a short bio on their candidacy.

Sweetwater Union High – Trustee Area 5:

In Trustee Area 5 there are four candidates: Paula Hall, Marcelino Martinez, William “Bud” McLeroy, and Thomas “Tom” Schaaf.

Trustee Area 5 primarily covers all of Imperial Beach from there it goes east along Palomar to I-805 South to I-905, back west to I-5 and then South to the border.

Candidate Paula Hall:

Candidate Paula Hall

Candidate Paula Hall

Paula Hall describes herself first and foremost as a wife, mom, and an involved parent. Professionally she is an education budget analyst with thirty years of experience.

Paula Hall has served on school site council and parent advisory committees as an officer and has worked to inform parents and the community about issues and about the important changes to trustee election process for Sweetwater. She has been an active participant at board meetings speaking up on the issues affecting the community.

What do you believe is the number one issue with the district?

Ethics. What I’m talking about is not just about the tragedy of the corruption that has plagued our District for at least a decade. I’m talking about ethical treatment of students and staff.

All students should have access and be treated fairly. Not all students learn the same or come from the same type of home structure. We need to serve each one appropriately for the long term and not just for a moment in time.

What qualities are will you looking for in hiring a superintendent?

Ethical and honest, culturally aware, strong commitment to working collaboratively, effective communicator, and the ability to identify issues and solutions. These are some of the qualities.

Board accountability has been lacking, how will you hold the board accountable?

Making sure I understand what the issues are and what is going on in the schools. Making sure decisions are informed and not just a rubber stamp of approval. By being out visiting schools, talking with parents, staff, and by including stakeholders in the discussion well before a proposal is on an approval agenda.

What do you believe is your role in interacting with teachers?

Teachers are doing the business of teaching. They must have a voice and the board needs to give them the opportunity to be heard. They should be valued and respected.

What are your financial priorities?

Getting clear records with detailed information is the first step. Making sure that resources are allocated equitably across all the schools. I understand that the interim board and superintendent are bringing in the FCMAT team from the State. That team will dig into the financials of the district so that all resources are accounted for, and from that we can institute sound practices and sustainable budget to focus on teaching and learning.

The website for Paula Hall is:

Candidate Thomas “Tom” Schaaf:

Candidate Thomas Schaaf

Candidate Thomas Schaaf

Mr Schaaf is a retired: Math and Science Teacher/Coach/and Administrator from the Sweetwater District. He has lived in Imperial Beach for over 30 and raised two daughters that have graduated from the District.

In the community he was appointed to, and continues to serve on the City of Imperial Beach Design and Review Board. He has been involved with various volunteer programs including: the Kiwanis South Bay, Boys and Girls Club Board, Salvation Army, and National City Rotary.

What do you believe is the number one issue with the district?

Bringing the public pride back to the Sweetwater District by working with the new Board to hire the very best Superintendent to lead the District. Being open and working with the community to set Policies to use the financial resources for our students.

What qualities are you looking for in hiring a superintendent?

The Superintendent must have the skills of a positive leader who is passionate, collaborative, and be highly visible public advocate to improve the environment and team for the Sweetwater District students and the community. Be motivated by the challenge of work, with innovative skills and be a creative thinker, proven skills as effective administrator/manager. The Superintendent needs be a model for the diverse student population of our South Bay community.

Board accountability has been lacking, how would you hold the board accountable?

I agree the accountability has been lacking. …With my experience, and with the new Board, the new superintendent must continue looking into the District financial side by requesting a complete audit and the company that will go line by line for the new Board. The Board needs to look into the current Policies and question some of their procedures. Working with the Board, we should all be well informed on items and willing to listen to public and question the direction and District accountability.

What do believe your role is in interacting with teachers?

We need more input from teachers and their needs to be more successful in the classrooms. It does not come from the top down, great teaching starts in the room, and teacher dedication. The district has outstanding teachers; we need to feel we are a team continuing to building the best place to get an education. The board is only part of the team, and we all have to work together.

What are your financial priorities?

I believe the public needs to understand where the District money is being spent. We need to focus the District on education, and get better advice on managing the district’s properties. I believe there have been major decisions made, without the board willing to get more input. By having and open process with the budget and the board members ability to question procedures and set new goals, the District financial priorities can be directed for students.

Candidate William “Bud” McLeroy:
McLeroy did not respond to our questionnaire. He is listed as a Firefighter/Educator. McLeroy has run several times for the Southwestern Community College Board and is now running for Sweetwater Board.

Candidate Marcelino Martinez:
Ms. Martinez did not return the questionnaire. She is listed as a school bus driver. We could not find any other information on Ms. Martinez.

Mid-Term elections will be held on Nov 4, with mail ballots being sent out the first week of October. Are you registered to vote? Not sure visit the Registrar of Voters website at: shtml

SUHSD Candidate forum by Southwest Civic Association, Tuesday Oct. 7, 5:30-7:45,
South Chula Vista Library, Orange and 4th.

The forum features Sweetwater High School Districts 2 and 4.

District 2 is basically old Chula Vista east of Third Avenue, Rancho del Rey, Bonita, and east Chula Vista north of Telegraph Road as far east as SR 125. Candidates are Adrian Arancibia, Berta Lopez, Kevin O’Neill, Kevin Pike, and Dana Toogood.

District 4 is basically Otay Ranch, but it extends west on a rather narrow wedge through the Castle Park and Harborside areas to the bay. Candidates are Tino Martinez, Derrick Roach, Nichelos Segura, Valley Cloeman, and Felipe Nuno.

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