Wheeler told the Voice that she was comfortable with what appeared to be a solid victory Tuesday evening, and that was gratified that voters picked her for re-election. She congratulated Conley on her apparent victory, and encouraged the other challenger in the race, Patterson, to stay involved in school politics as her young children enter school.
Conley, a teacher who works in education policy and has taught in Mountain View and San Jose, only recently became a regular attendee at Mountain View Whisman school board meetings, but told voters she was passionate about education and eager to try her hand at public office. Her area of focus is on underserved students, particularly on English learners, who struggle to perform at grade level.
"I am grateful for the support of so many community members, and I am looking forward to serving them," Conley said Tuesday night. "I am ready to get to work."
Patterson congratulated the winners, and said she intended to continue her role in local schools as a member of the community. She said the focus of her campaign was to address the "important issues in Mountain View of diversity, excellence and community," and that she had great conversations about how to address these issues and improve schools while on the campaign trail.
On the campaign trail, school board candidates faced tough questions on what they would do to narrow the significant achievement gap present in the district, which for years has shown large disparities between student test scores along ethnic and economic lines. Each candidate took a different approach to the answer, championing programs like early English learning programs and preschool expansion.
Candidates also sought to show voters how they each planned to support the district's hundreds of teachers, who have struggled to live in the high-cost Bay Area — many of whom face long commutes. While candidates briefly addressed concerns about the possibility that Bullis Charter School would be opening a campus within the district, most of the campaigning took place before specific details on the Bullis Mountain View became publicly available.
Being an incumbent in the race was a mixed blessing, name recognition notwithstanding. Wheeler and Coladonato were on the board during the hiring of Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph, negotiated with North Bayshore developers over an anticipated swell in enrollment, and paved the way for a recent decision to buy into 144 affordable housing units for teachers and school staff.
But Wheeler and Coladonato also led the district through some wildly unpopular decisions, including the adoption of the ill-fated Teach to One math program and the decision to remove and reassign four principals all at once in March this year.
Coladonato said that he was grateful for the opportunity to serve the Mountain View Whisman School District community over the last four years.
Wheeler and Conley will have to hit the ground running for their fifth and first terms, respectively. Just days after being sworn in, the two will have to make key decisions on whether to approve or deny a petition to launch a new charter school in the district. The decision will have huge implications on the district's budget and facilities planning, and could potentially throw a wrench in carefully laid plans to shift boundaries and open a new school next year.
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