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Vacaville school board candidates sound off during forum

20 vaca school board 1

Shawn Windham speaks during the Vacaville Unified School District candidate forum at Will C. Wood High School, Tuesday. Nine candidates are vying for positions on the school board. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | August 20, 2014 |

VACAVILLE — Transparency.

It’s an election buzzword and it floated around often during a two-plus-hour forum Tuesday night at Will C. Wood High School for the nine candidates vying for four seats on the Vacaville School District board of education.

The candidates are incumbents David McCallum, Shelley Dally, Whit Whitman and Chris Flask, and challengers Jeremy Jeffreys, Tracee Stacy, Judi Ruggiero, Deloris Roach and Shawn Windham. Flask and Windham are running for a two-year seat vacated by a former board member who resigned. Flask was appointed to take the provisional seat until the upcoming election. The next two years will finish out the original seat.

Three of the candidates – Jeffreys, Ruggiero and Stacy – are running on a single platform and were the first to toss out the buzzword, saying that the current board is less than transparent in some of its actions.

“I don’t think the current board has done a good job of doing that so far,” Ruggiero said.

Stacy agreed, citing lack of information on an August agenda, as did Jeffreys, but his example involved the upcoming $194 million Measure A school district facilities bond that will be on the November ballot. While he is for the bond, he noted that the facilities needs list tops $240 million and said he asked how the projects will be prioritized.

“The only reservation I have is the lack of transparency in how the projects will be organized and funded,” he said.

McCallum and Whitman refuted the lack of transparency, saying that was an issue many years ago that has been solved.

“(As) Dave said, that’s gone,” Whitman said.

The forum was sponsored by the Vacaville Teachers Association and will be used to form its endorsement. Referencing the fact that four members on the current board are up for re-election, Moira McSweeney, president of the teachers association, said in an earlier press release, “Four of out seven is a majority.”

“These people can have a very large effect on the future of our schools and the future of our schools affects everyone in Vacaville,” she added.

The forum required the candidates to give a one-minute opening statement; answer two prepared questions, one involving their goals; answer a series of audience questions; and then give a one-minute closing statement.

The small but active audience kept the nine candidates busy answering questions that ranged from whether they support Measure A, whether they support a stadium at Wood High School, the new and somewhat controversial Kairos Public Schools Vacaville Academy, health care premiums and the need for better communication with Spanish-speaking parents.

The candidates diverged on many subjects, including Kairos, but they came together and united in the necessity for Measure A.

“It’s critical that it passes,” Windham said.

Dawn Kelly, the Political Action Committee chairwoman for the teachers association, said the forum will be used as an interview process and they’ll further “use it to help us to decide.”

The teachers association’s endorsement should be available Aug. 27.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or swinlow@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

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Discussion | 1 comment

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  • Larry MazzucaSeptember 03, 2014 - 12:10 pm

    As someone who was elected to the Vacaville School Board four times serving approximately 17 years, I'm bothered by the comments of some of the challengers that the Board isn't transparent. Being "transparent" is an over used buzzword. State up front what you believe isn't transparent and offer firm examples of what isn't transparent. Stay focused on the real issues and not hyperbole. The current Board members are highly intelligent, understand the issues and know the community well. They've done a fantastic job and deserve to be re-elected for another term in office.

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