Campaign 2012: Cooley-Diaz contest tops school races
Wheatland Union HIgh School District (three seats): Justin Guzman*, Staci Medina*, Johnna Bartholomew*, Deborah Jean Schweitz.
Wheatland Elementary School District (two seats): Nicole "Nikki" Crabb*, Ish Medina*, Osh Magana.
Live Oak Unified School District (three seats): Scott D. Davis, Terry Jones*, Doug Marr, David J. Owen*, Kathy Walker, Clayton Goodman.
Browns School District (three seats): David Adams, Cassie Dunbar, Ed Henderson, Jess Allen McLaughlin Jr., Travis Barker.
East Nicolaus Joint Unified School District (three seats): Matthew Conant*, Thomas Hanson*, Theresa Leach*, Bruce Wanner, Jennifer Wells, Tom Almond, Debbie Coupe.
Franklin School District (two seats): Dan Cucchi, Joseph Oates, Thomas Williams Jr.*
Woodland Joint Unified School District (one seat, includes portion of Sutter County): Jennifer R. Archer-Cox, Elaine M. Lytle
Most of the candidates are running in the area covering south Yuba City — but the two-person race to represent the center of town is generating the most heat in the Yuba City Unified School District.
Angel Diaz is challenging incumbent Herb Cooley for Trustee Area 2 and said the two men see the school district's status differently.
"He feels like everything's fine," Diaz said. "I don't."
Cooley said he has been an effective advocate for issues, including district finances and keeping open Central Gaither Elementary.
"We're one of the school districts really doing well in these times," said Cooley.
Diaz said district officials have to do a better job of informing parents about what's going on at Yuba City Unified.
He cites recent town hall meetings as an example of inadequate communication.
Cooley said attendance was lower than he would like but that the district advertised the event in the newspaper and on radio.
"I can't say why parents weren't involved or didn't show up," he said.
Four candidates are running in Trustee Area 1, covering south Yuba City, for two seats. Farmer John Amarel and real estate agent Zac Repka said they see the school district doing a good job overall. But Amarel said the state relies too heavily on standardized tests to measure student success.
"It's necessary," Amarel said. "But it's not the only standard."
He has children attending Yuba City Unified schools and said it's important for parents to be involved in the district.
Repka said issues that led him to run include instruction for high school students about personal finances.
He noted steady increases in state test scores and said nine schools surpass 800 in the Academic Performance Index — the goal in California.
"One of the best ways we can serve our community," Repka said, "is to make sure our education system is strong."
Incumbent Sharman Kobayashi and candidate Mike Johnston could not be reached for comment about the election.
Kobayashi said at a Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce forum that she ran for Yuba City Unified trustee in 1996 because schools were rundown and overcrowded.
"I wanted us to have schools we could be proud of," she said.
A 1999 bond measure funded River Valley High School, three new elementary schools and modernization of other sites, the trustee said.
"I'm even more proud of our how our students are doing," she added of their academic performance.
Johnston, an attorney, said at the forum that trustees face a difficult and complex task that includes issues involving transportation, building maintenance, and pay and benefits for employees.
The public is interested in graduating students who are prepared for what follows high school, Johnston added.
"They want the schools to produce people who are ready to go out into the world and be successful," he said.
Candidates run from districts to represent geographic areas but voters elect trustees district-wide.