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November 05, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, November 05, 2004

Higgins, Walter, Roquero win Higgins, Walter, Roquero win (November 05, 2004)

Veterans Kelly, Aranda fall short in school board race

By Julie O'Shea

The Mountain View-Whisman School Board will remain an all-female governing board -- at least for the next two years.

Incumbent Gloria Higgins and newcomers Fiona Walters and RoseMary Sias Roquero each won four-year terms on the elementary- and middle-school district board Tuesday.

The three women, who share similar educational values and ideas, maintained early leads on election night, quickly shutting out school board veterans Michael Kelly and Juan Aranda.

Higgins was the top vote-getter, nabbing 25.28 percent of the vote. Walter followed with 23.97 percent and Roquero was close behind, capturing 23.31 percent of the "yes" vote.

Kelly, a former Whisman school district trustee, came in fourth with 18 percent of the vote and Aranda, who resigned from the Mountain View-Whisman board two years ago after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, trailed with just 9.29 percent of the vote.

"I am pleased. I think this is going to be a really nice board," Higgins said during a victory party Tuesday at the Tied House restaurant. "It's been a good night all around."

Higgins, Walter and Roquero will be sworn in next month. They will join Ellen Wheeler and Fran Kruss, whose terms on the board expire in 2006.

Higgins was appointed to the board in 2002, following the resignation of Aranda. Walter and Roquero will replace longtime trustees Carol Fisher and Rose Filcetti who are retiring.

"I'm excited. I am ready to get to work," Fiona Walter said Tuesday night. "I think this is going to be a nice team. Everyone's there to be a team player."

Walter said she'd like to get the community more involved with the school district whether it be individually or through corporate sponsorship. She said she'd also like to improve Mountain View-Whisman's technology and shrink the achievement gap during her tenure on the school board.

Roquero was also elated to win. "I can't even believe this has happened," she said. "I am ready for it. I want to be able to give a voice to everyone."

Roquero, the only Latina on the school board, is expected to be able to reach out to the district's large Spanish-speaking population.

A Mountain View native, Roquero grew up attending the schools she will now oversee. She believes that all children have the right and the potential of attending college if they wish. Roquero is adamant about keeping the learning bar high and wants all Mountain View-Whisman students to get a fair chance at success.

"We sort of have similar ideas," Higgins said of her fellow candidates. "We don't all agree on the issues, though."

Higgins, too, is dedicated to seeing the district's achievement gap vanish. She said improving staff development is key. Teachers need to make sure they are addressing the learning needs of all students, Higgins added.

Some big issues before the new school board include picking the next permanent superintendent. Current Superintendent Eleanor Yick has a contract through June. Yick has not stated publicly if she will seek to extend her contract with the district.

Higgins, Walter and Roquero all have said they support conducting a search for the next superintendent.

The board must also decide which campus it will close at the end of June. District officials say closing a school is the only way they will be able to balance next year's budget.

Mountain View-Whisman's new trustees say they are ready for this challenge. A decision on school closure could come as soon as January.

E-mail Julie O'Shea at [email protected]


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