Mountain View Voice

News - July 2, 2010

Five school board jobs in play

by Nick Veronin

With the assent of the five-member board and the click of his gavel, Joe Mitchner approved next year's budget for both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools — a decision that will directly affect about 3,670 high school students and their families over the 2010-11 school year.

When Mitchner brought his ceremonial wooden hammer down, he was exemplifying a well-worn expression: "Think globally, act locally." The idea is that while it's great to keep an eye on the big picture, it is really the smaller issues, close to home, that will ultimately have the biggest impact on one's life.

Such is the case with local school boards — the governing bodies which make decisions on how to spend taxpayer money on local public education. And with the seats of five officials serving on the governing bodies of the high school and elementary school districts up for re-election this November, many Mountain View parents may be paying close attention.

"You're involved in establishing policies and procedures," Mitchner said of his job as board president of the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. "You're directly involved with the budget of the district."

Mitchner is one of the five officials facing re-election this fall. The two other board members in his district, which includes Mountain View and Los Altos high schools, are Judy Hannemann and Julia Rosenberg. Two board members, Ellen Wheeler and Phillip Palmer, are facing re-election in the Mountain View Whisman School District.

To run, one must be a registered voter living within the school district's boundaries and not employed by the school district. Residents of the district vote the board members into office.

Those planning on running for school board must register with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. The nomination period begins July 12 and the filing deadline is August 6. The registrar's office can provide information packets with more detailed eligibility requirements.

"People who think about running for school board should consider the amount of time the job deserves," said Wheeler, who plans to run for re-election in November. According to her, the minimum required of school board members is attending meetings, reading information packets prior to meetings, asking appropriate questions of school staff who will be affected by the board's decisions and being prepared to have a meaningful discussion with board members about items on the agenda.

Wheeler said she also attends PTA meetings, schools' open house events and spends time talking to parents and other community members involved with the school.

Mitchner, who said he is "semi-retired," estimates that he spends about 10 to 20 hours a week on school-board related activities. He plans to run for re-election in November.

Palmer, of Mountain View Whisman, plans to run for re-election. Hannemann, of Mountain View Los Altos, said she has not decided, while her fellow trustee, Rosenberg, plans to run.

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