Search for a New Trustee

There’s quite an all-star cast that has lined up to become a
trustee for the Gilroy Unified School District, and it’s
wonderfully refreshing to see such a high level of interest in the
position.
There’s quite an all-star cast that has lined up to become a trustee for the Gilroy Unified School District, and it’s wonderfully refreshing to see such a high level of interest in the position. It’s even more refreshing to see the current trustees setting a high bar for those who wish to occupy the seat left open in the wake of the untimely death of trustee TJ Owens a few weeks ago.

The process has been upgraded. Trustee hopefuls will have to answer written questions, engage themselves in an oral Q&A with current board members and answer questions from the public.

In days gone by, the process would have consisted only of dropping your name and phone number off and some politicing behind the scenes before someone was picked.

The new rigor represents not only significant management progress but a tangible shift in awareness of how important the governance of schools is. If we are to truly have schools that are accountable, progressive and rooted in a fundamental passion to educate, our school trustees must be diligent and demanding. Any waffling, any detour from that mission will surely condemn our school district and our students to the circular path of mediocrity for the foreseeable future.

There are six intriguing applicants to fill the board slot, including the widow of TJ Owens, Brenda Jordan-Owens. Javier Aguirre, a policy aide for Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, and David Stiffler, a transplant from Indiana who served on a school governing board there, join Bob Heisey, who ran and lost in 2004, and two former Gilroy Unified School District trustees, Kai Lai and Bill Paterson.

Trustees should now let the process work. Who takes great care with the written answers? Who pays attention to detail? Which applicant has the commitment and vision to challenge all students, not just the GATE students and not just the low achievers?

Who’s articulate? Can they raise the bar at the board level? Will they work hard and hold the administration accountable? Does the candidate listen well?

The term for this trustee will only be for one year, but the board members should choose as if the person will be seated for 10 years. There should be a sense of urgency in each and every board decision, otherwise school improvement becomes a goal for the far-off future rather than a commitment for tomorrow.

Politics of any kind should not play a role in this decision; each trustee should be prepared to defend his or her vote within the context of school improvement. Otherwise, accountability simply becomes the latest meaningless educational buzzword.

Good luck to the applicants. Answer honestly and speak from your heart. The students, parents and taxpayers of Gilroy deserve the best representative possible, and thisprocess should provide that.

Leave your comments