San Jose Spotlight: Four compete for Open Santa Clara County Education Seat – SFGATE | Team Cansler

The Santa Clara County Board of Education has a vacancy and four people would like the job.

Rosemary Kamei’s victory as a councilor-elect in San Jose’s District 1 opens the seat in Area 3. The board plans to fill the seat during a special session on Nov. 28, where public comments will also be heard.

Community leaders previously raised concerns about the seat’s appointment process, which gave potential candidates just over a week to apply. The Executive Board has extended the application period and postponed the appointment period.

The Area 3 board member oversees the Cambrian, Campbell Union, Luther Burbank, Moreland, Union and Campbell Union High School districts, as well as portions of the San Jose Unified and Santa Clara Unified school districts.

The board will also add two new faces this month as Franklin-McKinley School District Trustee Maimona Afzal Berta and Santa Clara County Health Advisor Raeena Lari are likely winners in their respective races, with 97 percent of the ballots counted .

The Santa Clara County Office of Education previously announced five eligible candidates. However, former candidate Basil Saleh told San Jose Spotlight he is dropping out of the race, citing personal commitments and time issues. Board of Education members are responsible for representing more than 30 school districts across the county, creating policies and guidelines on important issues such as educational equity.

Here are applicants vying for the Area 3 seat.

Deborah Jyl Lutes

Deborah Jyl Lutes shares her experiences as a former Salinas City Council member, teacher, school board member and grandparent of a Campbell Union School District student. Her priorities include addressing learning losses from pandemics, rising student behavior problems and teacher shortages.

“This is truly a pivotal moment in education, and how we rise to the challenge of meeting the tremendous needs and demands requires community stakeholder collaboration, sound board policies and transparent leadership,” Lutes told San Jose Spotlight.

Donald Roche

Donald Rocha highlighted his experience as a former San Jose City Councilman, current Cambrian School District board member, and parent. Its priorities are analyzing county food insecurity, supporting vocational education programs, and addressing special education programs.

“I would love to continue the incredible work that the County (Office) of Education has already done,” Rocha told the San Jose Spotlight. “I would like to use my legislative advocacy experience to help the Board of Education.”

Jesus Salazar

Jesus Salazar’s priorities include addressing educational inequality in low-income families, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, early education and career readiness. He shares his experience as a senior program analyst with the State Bureau of Planning and Research, a board member for the Luther Burbank School District, and a former student of Santa Clara County schools.

“I know firsthand the experiences that students and their families face,” Salazar told the San Jose Spotlight. “I want to make sure our education council accurately reflects the makeup of our county and make sure our communities of color have a voice at the table.”

Michelle Ryan

Michele Ryan highlighted her experience as a former educator, principal and board member of the Santa Clara Unified School District. Her priorities are increasing academic achievement and supporting students in county educational programs.

“I’ve worked on the front lines of public education,” Ryan told the San Jose Spotlight. “I also look forward to working as part of the governance team to think strategically about how the[Office of Education]can best serve the districts and students.”

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