Four school board seats up for grabs in Nov.

Piceno seeks re-election; Midtgaard ready to pass torch

As a retired Gilroy Unified School District educator and current Board of Trustees president, Linda Piceno has helped sculpt much of the local education landscape.

And she’s not looking to change that anytime soon, as she confirmed with the Dispatch last week that she will seek a second four-year term on the school board.

Piceno said there are many important and challenging decisions ahead for Gilroy Unified, and she wants to have a part in those discussions.

“The first (reason) is I suspect that this next term, this next board will be the board that selects the next superintendent for the district,” Piceno said. “Debbie Flores is not going to work forever, although we would like her to. I suspect sometime in the next four years she will retire, so I would like to be on the board when that happens.”

Piceno has a long history with Gilroy, beginning as a history teacher at Gilroy High School in 1975 before becoming assistant principal there for 11 years. Before retiring herself in 2007, she was assistant principal at Glenview Elementary, principal of the old Jordan Elementary, principal at South Valley Middle School and then the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources.

Along with the potential for hiring the next education leader, Piceno also said driving her to seek re-election is helping navigate the district through some possible financial woes for public education.

“If you read anything about economics in the state of California, it looks like we’re in for some tough times,” added Piceno, pointing to a first-time enrollment decline in Gilroy schools last year that will lead to even tougher decisions for future budgets. “I have experience dealing with really tough decisions, and it’s not easy but I’ve done it. I’d like to continue to offer that experience to the district.”

The candidate filing period for the Nov. 6 election is July 16-Aug. 10. Incumbents failing to file a Declaration of Candidacy by the Aug. 10 deadline are then prohibited from filing for the office during the extension period; and the nomination period for that office is then extended until 5pm on Aug. 15.

Along with Piceno, the other three at-large school board seats set to expire in November are held by Patricia Midtgaard, Heather Bass and Jamie Rosso.

Midtgaard, who has served on the GUSD board for 11 years, notified the Dispatch last week that she’s decided not to seek another four-year term.

“As a former teacher and principal in GUSD, I had experienced the many-faceted sides to education at both the classroom and site level,” said Midtgaard, who called her time on the board “invaluable” in learning the governance role. “I thought I understood what the purpose and actions of a school board were, but I didn’t until I served.”

Midtgaard praised her fellow trustees as “ethical, committed board members who are determined to offer a variety of classes and programs so that the students of GUSD will be prepared for their future opportunities.” During her tenure, she served on the facilities subcommittee and helped shape decisions on the use of Measure P and Measure E bond monies.

Midtgaard lauded bond projects such as the upgrades at Gilroy High, a new library at Rod Kelley Elementary, new wing and administrative building at Glen View Elementary; new multipurpose/cafeteria building and upgrades at Rucker Elementary; and the new stadium at Christopher High.

“I am sure there are community members who are dedicated to the goals of public education and would be advocates for our students in the capacity of a board member,” Midtgaard said. “I would encourage such people to seriously consider serving on the GUSD Board of Education.”

Bass and Rosso could not be reached for comment before this week’s edition.

In addition to these four spots on the local board, Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Claudia Rossi’s seat expires in November. Rossi, a Morgan HIll resident and former Morgan Hill Unified School District trustee who is seeking a second term, represents Trustee Area 7, which includes Morgan Hill Unified, Gilroy Unified, Evergreen and a portion of Oak Grove and corresponding portion of East Side Union High school districts.