Last Thing Gilroy Needs is an ‘Anointed’ School Trustee

The sudden death of Gilroy Unified School District Trustee TJ
Owens has left our school board with a seat to fill for the next
year. Since I follow the board closely, I was very disappointed to
read last week’s article on the vacant seat written by Dispatch
education reporter Heather Bremner.
The sudden death of Gilroy Unified School District Trustee TJ Owens has left our school board with a seat to fill for the next year. Since I follow the board closely, I was very disappointed to read last week’s article on the vacant seat written by Dispatch education reporter Heather Bremner.

I can see why the board would prefer an appointment; special elections are expensive. I would bet that most taxpayers prefer that we not invest in a costly election for a one-year term. However, I am very concerned with comments made by at least one of the current trustees.

Trustee Jaime Rosso stated, “I think the board will lean toward, not a special election but an appointment. That’s a position I will support because we’re talking about one year left on the term.” Mr. Rosso was rightly careful not to commit to a particular option, just give his opinion of what the process might be.

Board Vice President Pat Midtgaard has discussed protocol with Edwin Diaz, but is keenly aware that the process must be transparent. Pat is quoted as saying that “everything has to be open, of course, and it will be.”

As I was reading this story, I was fine up to this point. Then came “Because the term runs out in a year and it takes awhile to understand board policies, Rogers, Midtgaard and Rosso, said they would like to appoint a candidate who has some experience.”

Since that “experience” was not qualified in the story, I won’t comment on it. There was no direct quote from Pat Midtgaard or Jaime Rosso that I found offensive. But I absolutely take issue with the quote from longtime Board member Jim Rogers; “It’s better if someone could have some experience so they could hit the ground running because you don’t want to take that year to learn the ropes and have no further involvement after the election.”

Not only is this quote totally outside the scope of being open to public scrutiny and comment, it makes it very clear that Jim Rogers would like an ex-trustee to fill the vacant seat.

Mr. Rogers thinks it would be best to fill that seat with one of the handful of people in Gilroy who have previously sat on our school board. If this is how he feels, then why even bother with the trivial detail of involving the public at whose pleasure the board members serve? When I read this quote , I was sure that he was advocating an anointment instead of appointment to the Board.

I could make a very convincing argument that the last person we need on our school board is someone who “knows the ropes.”

Frankly, some ropes in GUSD have been tied in knots for years; others have been used to strangle the kind of common sense approach to fixing what ails this district.

I offer a little advice to those off you who, like me, are not one of the five Jim Rogers-certified eligible citizens of Gilroy. I don’t believe that it takes long to learn the ropes – a parent who can name their child’s teacher is capable of learning the ropes. Anyone who has balanced a checkbook could learn the ropes. Anyone who knows what CST or SAT stands for can learn the ropes.

Being a good trustee is not like being an astrophysicist; it doesn’t require an enormous intellect. Being a valuable trustee is a skill you can learn while doing, unfortunately being a valuable trustee is not a guaranteed side-effect of being reelected.

Unlike Mr. Rogers, I believe that people who might come forward to be considered for the vacant seat might genuinely care about the future of education in Gilroy.

I don’t assume that this person will choose not to run for re-election after a year on the board. I don’t assume anything about who would be a good person to fill the seat, so naturally the options are limitless to me.

Unfortunately, without an election, I don’t really have a vote, unless or until I decide to run for school board. But that is the topic for another day. Until that day comes, I will be sure to be one of the public who observes the interviews of potential trustees.

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