San Diego Board of Education Elections for June 5 Heat Up

Karen Bucher, writing in UT San Diego, notes that the county Board of Education has influence over the region’s schools — and with three seats up for election on June 5 things are getting interesting. The board president, Mark Anderson, has endorsed the opponents of two incumbents, John Witt and Jerry Rindone. Anderson and the two community college instructors he is supporting are all members of the American Federation of Teachers.

Anderson, who represents District 4, said he is supporting candidates who have a background in education. “Is it a plot by the AFT to take it over? Absolutely not,” Anderson said.

Witt claims that the union is supporting the challengers in the hopes of representing teachers who work for the county Office of Education. These teachers have their own union in a local chapter of California Teachers Association.

“I can’t think of any other reason why the AFT would be running a slate of three candidates in the county races other than they want to get a bargaining foothold,” Witt said.

Rindone, 66, has said he would like the board to become more hands on in its management style and ask tougher questions about budget issues. He would also like to use fund reserves to reverse some of the 38 layoff notices issued by the Office of Education this spring. He is not without his own union support, having been endorsed by the San Diego Association of Educators.

He is being challenge by Virginia Neylon, 43, who teaches at Cuyamaca College:

We need real educators, not more administrators on the school board,” she said in her ballot statement.

Witt, 81, has been a member of the board since 1996 and is facing three opponents in the election for his district. The Anderson-backed Gregg Robinson, 63, teaches at Grossmont College and claims that it is time for a fresh face on the board.

Witt is also being challenged by Barbara Carpenter, 77, and education consultant who has previously been a member of the board, and Bob Cornelius, 68, who is campaigning on the issue of finance and rethinking the funding structure for public education.

If no one wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, the two top vote-getters will be in a November runoff.

The five member board oversees the county Office of Education which has a $601 million budget and over one thousand employees. Board members receive a monthly stipend of $463 plus health benefits.