Selecting a New Trustee

Our View: Monday night, the public is invited to question the
applicants for the Gilroy Unified School District Board. The
meeting starts at 6pm at the school district offices, 7810 Arroyo
Academic focus and a willingness to work.

That’s what the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Trustees should hone in on when they make a selection to fill out the remainder of a board term with one year left after TJ Owens suddenly passed away.

The Board is to be congratulated for laying out a good process that has attracted five solid applications.

Now, all that’s left is making sure the process drives the decision and that trustees objectively evaluate the candidates.

Monday night the School Board will start the meeting early at 6pm and end it by selecting a new trustee. It’s a key decision for the future of GUSD, one that should be made with a keen ear. Trustees already have written answers from the applicants. Those answers, by the way, are available at for the public to read.

From those written answers, trustees and the public have an opportunity to ask follow-up questions Monday night that clarify focus, motives, philosophy and commitment. The questions should be pointed. And if the answers aren’t sharp, trustees should ask a follow-up question and insist on a specific answer. Vagueness isn’t something that’s going to help propel GUSD forward, neither will timid questions.

Two applicants, Bob Heisey and Javier Aguirre, have demonstrated a current active commitment to public education. Heisey has been paying attention since last running for school board. He’s attended school board meetings, and his written answers demonstrate a solid understanding of everything from the Accountability Plan to low math scores. Aguirre is a former El Portal Leadership Academy Charter School Advisory Board president and a current advisory board member. As a senior policy aide for Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, he has extensive political experience.

Brenda Jordan-Owens has applied to finish out her husband’s term as have longtime community volunteers Kai Lai and Bill Paterson. All the applicants are good people with solid experience.

Trustees, however, should select someone who is not just interested in filling out TJ Owens’ term.

It would be far better to choose a trustee interested in serving for a longer period of time. It takes a while to understand the job and acquire the knowledge that leads to leadership. The year should not be wasted.

Listening, thinking critically and being objective should lead trustees to the best person for the job.