School Board Candidates Show Much Common Ground in Forum

Hopefuls unanimously support the local school funding measures on the November ballot and agree on some other issues during a Saturday gathering.

The four candidates in the West County school board election appeared to be general agreement on most issues during a forum hosted on Saturday by the El Cerrito Democratic Club.

Incumbent Antonio Medrano and challengers Robert Studdiford, Randy Enos and Todd Groves all said they support a school bond measure for school reconstruction and the extension of a parcel tax, .

All of the candidates advocated more open use of school facilities by the communities in which they're located and support for adult education programs, school safety and teaching evolution in schools.

The candidates are running for the two seats on the five-member board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Each of them gave three-minute opening statements, followed by a session with questions submitted from among the 100 or so members of the audience at El Cerrito High School.

The group presented individual nuances on some issues, such as how to improve student performance, and tailored their messages in opening statements.

In his introductory remarks, incumbent Medrano said that the district needs to address the high number of graduating students who attend community colleges, only to take remedial English and math classes. He said schools such as Collins and Lake elementary schools remain in need of reconstruction and he praised some "gems" in programs like the Ivy League Connection and the academy system with its emphasis on multi-media, performance arts, environmental studies and hospitality.

Medrano lauded the district's emergence from the burden of state loans earlier this year and said the bond debt used to reconstruct district schools has been managed well.

Studdiford, an active PTA president and member of the district's Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee, said in his statement that he's attended every school board meeting for the past six years. He said he understands "where our tax dollars go" for infrastructure and the intricacies of the revenue that the state gives to the district. He emphasized his knowledge, leadership and willingness to listen to staff and teachers and constituents.

Enos, a retired school teacher and principal, said a lot of work is needed to improve school safety, student performance and "community collaboration" needed to make improvements. He called these "affect our students greatly." He commended the school board out the debt owed to the state, which he called "a huge accomplishments for all of our students."

Groves, a parent and El Cerrito schools volunteer for 16 years, said has worked to fill gaps in student learning by introducing effective programs, such as individual student support in "writing and critical thinking skills." He'd also like to improve achievement levels in math and science at the middle schools and treat children as "individual learners than our current approach of a one-size-fits-all curriculum."

Groves also drew wide applause and laughter after answering a question about teaching evolution to students. The audience chuckled at the question, the last among several in a "lightning round" that allowed for one-word or one-sentence.

"I support evolution in our schools, not only teaching evolution," Groves said.

The Democratic club members cast votes for election endorsements following the forum. Only Groves received the necessary 60 percent of votes cast to receive an endorsement, getting 68 percent from voting members. Medrano and Studdiford both received support of 45 percent, followed by Enos with 21 percent.

Giorgio C. August 29, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Maybe Randy Enos? I should not have referred to him as the status quo. Incumbent Antonio Medrano would be the status quo as a result of his previous 4 years as a board member. Mr. Enos has taught and has been an administrator and comes from a family of educators. We should not dismiss him just because of the 21% vote at this forum which had its own biases. I want change. I would be elated if Mr. Enos could promise such.
Ira Sharenow August 29, 2012 at 03:02 PM
http://toddgroves.org/ http://robertstuddiford.org/ http://www.baysidepta.org/docs/campaign/StatementMedrano.pdf http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX770aBy90o Medrano https://sites.google.com/site/randyenosforwccusdschoolboard/contact-us
Oru August 31, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Groves' website is impressive. It has the bells and whistles. It also has the information I was looking for. Some reason though my gut is still skeptical about him. He works well with the El Cerrito students. He seems to only have experience with the El Cerrito community. I have questions. Maybe I'll catch him at a function! That would be great he seems like a great person to talk to! Robert Studdiford seems like he is in Ramsey's pocket. I like that he owns his own business. I think that is good. Where is his education information? I have heard some things about him though, hopefully just negative rumors. GC his wife is a substitute teacher? That is good. If he is not educated then she must be helping him. I look to what he has to say further on because right now I'm a little less than confident about him. Now Medrano has a non current youtube video. I am not impressed with him. He does at least have his education listed on his website and his age and even that he is a homeowner. I hope he is just a little technologically challenged. I have not heard very good things about him. Randy Enos. His website is lacking. But I have his pamphlet and he is the only one I have talked to personally. Right now he is my top vote. He was very straight to the point about what he is going to do. I like him a lot because he grew up in this district. He was not about bells and whistles. He made it clear to me he cares about ALL the children in the district. Not just a section.
Oru August 31, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Right now I'm with Enos and Groves. They have both captured my attention is the best way. I feel very optimistic for once about the WCCUSD if they are involved. Thank you Ira for posting those websites.
Giorgio C. October 05, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Antonio Medrano fails to understand his duties as an "at large" school board member. Board members are "at large", representing the ENTIRE district, not only their city of residence. His comment might explain why some cities feel left out of the district. He stated "I have heard some of the discontent," he said. "Residents of Hercules and Pinole should find someone to run." Wrong answer. The correct response should have been "I have heard of some of the discontent and am looking into addressing their concerns because that is what I was elected to do." It is because of board members like Antonio Medrano who have no interest in taking the time to learn about the concerns of the entire district they represent that we have people feeling left out of the decision-making process regarding OUR school district. His comment is found here http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_21692151/antonio-medrano-and-three-challengers-battle-two-seats?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com


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