For the past several years, the San Bruno Park School District has suffered from chronic deficit spending, infighting and poor communication.
And just this year, the decision to close Crestmoor Elementary School was finally made but after months of confusion and concern. While the decision to close the school had merit, because only 65 of its 157 students lived within its borders, the opportunity to have an inclusive and productive process leading up to its closure was lost.
In May, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson released a status report that showed San Bruno Park was on a list of districts in the state they may not meet its financial obligations in the current or two upcoming years.
We could not support a parcel tax on the November 2012 ballot that aimed to raise about $2 million a year for five years because of the district’s poor communication and policy of deficit spending. Others in the community could not support it either and it failed.
The board now needs to focus on its communication with each other and the community as a whole before it can instill confidence that it can solve its issues and meet new and vast challenges head on. A new state funding formula and significant curriculum changes cannot be absorbed by a board that cannot communicate well.
Longtime trustee Skip Henderson stepped down earlier this year and, with that decision, there is an opportunity for progress. The remaining trustees unanimously appointed active parent volunteer and education foundation leader Patrick Flynn to the board. That they could all agree on this choice is telling. Though new to the board, Flynn has long been involved in education and should provide a calming presence and a practical community-first sensibility.
There are four candidates for three open seats. The others are incumbent Henry Sanchez, former trustee Chuck Zelnik and John Marinos. Marinos is a straight-shooter who believes the board emphasis should be on the classroom and not on outside issues. He deserves your vote. So then the choice comes down to Sanchez and Zelnik. While Zelnik represents a point of view in the community and has long questioned the board’s actions since he left in 2006, his strident style may not be a match for the new board and Marinos and Flynn may be able to express similar points of view in a more productive way. Sanchez is familiar with the board and is interested in creating a new sense of collaboration.
If the district is to move forward and take on its myriad challenges with a collaborative spirit that is responsive to and inclusive of the community it serves, the best choices for the three seats on its Board of Trustees are Flynn, Marinos and Sanchez.