Report Card

News and discussion on K-12 schools in the greater Sacramento region

December 7, 2012
Sacramento school board opening could be headed for special election

The Sacramento City Unified School District may be headed toward a special election to fill an open trustee seat at a cost estimated to be between $137,000 and $274,000.

The district's five bargaining groups and an outside coalition are urging trustees to reconsider their decision to appoint someone to resigning board member Ellyn Bell's seat.

At 5:30 p.m. tonight, Sacramento City Unified trustees are scheduled to interview six candidates for the Area 1 seat, which includes Land Park, downtown, midtown and Curtis Park.

The candidates - Gwynnae Byrd, Jay Hansen, Bina Lefkovitz, Anna Molander, David Ross and Kathryn Tobias - would serve out the two years remaining on Bell's term. Bell said she plans to move to San Francisco next month for her job.

"You have six people who don't live in Area 1 about to make a decision for the 27,000 people in Area 1," said Annette Deglow, one of the original petitioners of measures that created trustee area elections in Sacramento City Unified.

The district previously had an at-large election system.

Sacramento City Teachers Association President Scott Smith and leaders from the district's four other bargaining groups submitted a letter to trustees at Thursday's school board meeting calling for an election in Area 1 as soon as possible.

"We aren't saying the people that applied for the appointment aren't good people," Smith said. "They can all be wonderful people, but that area isn't being given a chance to choose."

After interviewing candidates tonight, the Sacramento City Unified board is scheduled to make an appointment on Dec. 20. The board could reverse that direction at tonight's meeting and move toward a special election.

Deglow said if an appointment is made, she is ready to challenge it.

"The petition is ready to go," said Deglow, who is a member of the coalition Citizens to Elect School Boards by Areas. "I already sent it to the county to approve."

Washington Unified in West Sacramento recently went through a similar process. Petitioners gathered 345 signatures to force a special election after trustees appointed a board member to fill a vacated seat. The special election is scheduled for March 5.

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About Report Card

Loretta KalbLoretta Kalb started her reporting career at The Sacramento Union, moved to KOVR-13 as a television reporter, editor and producer, headed to The Associated Press in San Francisco and eventually returned to Sacramento and joined The Sacramento Bee. Throughout her career, she has covered the state Legislature, courts, local government and, now, education. She is a Chico native and an Elk Grove resident.

Diana LambertDiana Lambert began her journalism career as a proofreader at the Lodi News-Sentinel. She is now a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee covering K-12 education and California State University, Sacramento. Previously she was The Bee’s Elk Grove bureau chief. Lambert was raised in a military family and lived at bases around the globe. She attended four high schools, graduating from Tokay High in Lodi and then Sacramento State University. She lives in Elk Grove.

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