Leading up to the April 4 election, in which several candidates are running to represent various geographic areas within the Glendale Unified School District's boundaries, incumbent Greg Krikorian is running against newcomer Vardan Stepanyan for a seat in District B, encompassing northwest Glendale.
Each candidate answered three questions — what they think is the biggest issue facing the district, what they'll each bring to the board, if elected and how career-technical education programs could be improved.
For Krikorian, there are two issues facing Glendale Unified.
He cites the leadership changes the district has seen since May 2015, having had three interim superintendents before the board hired Supt. Winfred Roberson last April, bringing a months-long transition period to an end.
"We've finally got our feet on the ground," Krikorian said, adding that the second challenge is the district's financial picture.
School officials have recently been working to address the district's ongoing deficit spending with a solvency plan that will guide them through the next three years. Krikorian cited the district's utility bills and healthcare costs as two financial challenges.
If he's reelected, he's said throughout his campaign that his 16 years on the board will continue to bring stability to the school district.
On his website, he states how the board has maintained educational programs and staff despite massive state budget cuts over the years.
"You can be sure there is nothing more important to me than the quality of education our children receive," according to his ballot statement.
When it comes to improving career-technical education programs, Krikorian said it's crucial the district invest in creating new opportunities.
"Today's students aren't going to be hired for today's jobs. New jobs are going to be created by the day. What's really important [is that] we have to create every opportunity possible for our students to succeed," he said. "One of the challenges is finding the professional expertise. You're bringing people in from the business sector to work on teachers' salaries."
Like Krikorian, Stepanyan said he views two major issues impacting Glendale Unified.
The first, Stepanyan said, is resolving the district's deficit spending.
The second is what Stepanyan describes as "a big gap between [the] community and schools."
As he's been knocking on residents' doors asking for their votes, Stepanyan has heard many tell him they are unaware of the school board's function in Glendale, and that they've never met a school board member.
"It's a big concern," Stepanyan said. "If people don't know what the school board does, how are they going to participate?"
If elected, Stepanyan said he thinks his legal background — he works as an immigration consultant — will be helpful when it comes to reviewing financial documents.
His ability to listen to and respect others will also be crucial in closing the gap between residents and school officials, he added.
He also cites local organizations as playing a role in improving the district's career-technical education programs.
"Most of the jobs we have right now are in the technical field," Stepanyan said. "I think we need to work with the community and [local] organizations and ask them for help to implement new programs."
Kelly Corrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org