Candidates in 3 School Districts Near End of Campaign Trail : Incumbents in Hawthorne Have Little Opposition

Times Staff Writer

The incumbents in the election for three seats on the Hawthorne elementary school district board appear to have little opposition from the two other candidates, with one planning to move out of the city soon and the other not having been spotted on the campaign trail.

“Of course they are on the ballots so one cannot take it too lightly,” said incumbent Rosemarie Caldwell.

The three active candidates in the race are focusing their discussions on curriculum development and monitoring the implications of rapid residential development in the city.

A brief description of the candidates, in alphabetical order, and their positions follows:


- John D. Andersen, 51, a salesman for Sparkletts Drinking Water, was appointed to the board in October, 1978, and elected in 1981 to a four-year term.

Andersen takes credit for for teacher and curriculum development under a sound budgetary process while he has been in office. “We have certainly felt the crunch under Proposition 13 but we were able to maintain all our programs and maintain a quality summer school and give our students the courses they needed for full development,” he said.

- Vickie Bondy is dropping out of the race because she is moving to Gardena, she said, which is out of the school district, but she leaves behind an issue--child care--that appears likely to remain on the city’s political horizon because of the number of single parents in the area.

“There are a lot of parents who need it (child care),” said Bondy, who is herself a single parent. “I put my son in a school that had it. What else could I do?” She said that she would have had to leave her job if child care had not been available.


- Rosemarie Caldwell, 49, an employee in the accounting department of the Centinela Valley Union High School District, has been a member of the Hawthorne board for nine years.

She lists as accomplishments her role in the improvement of computer education program and in the development of a core curriculum that permits seventh and eighth graders to take different subjects in different classrooms. “They are very antsy at that age. When they go to another class, it gives them a little feeling of growing up, prepares them for high school,” she said.

Caldwell said that the student-to-teacher ratio in the district has remained within acceptable limits despite a boom in residential construction in the Moneta Gardens area in southeast Hawthorne and an influx of residents with children in the northeast that has pushed enrollment upward. She said the board continues to monitor growth closely.

- Faith Runnels, a housewife, has moved away from her listed address of 3735 W. 120th St., according to people who answer the phone there. Charles Dickson, who identified himself as a friend who now lives at her former residence, said he did not know where she moved. Runnels did not respond to repeated messages left at her former address.


Caldwell said she had not run into Runnels on the campaign trail and was not aware of anyone who had.

- Leslie V. Smullen, 41, a Postal Service supervisor, was elected to the board in 1981 after serving a one-year appointed term.

He said the district’s curriculum needs further development, especially in science, to make sure it fulfills state requirements. He said the mentor teacher program, in which designated senior teachers, who receive extra pay, “coach” younger teachers, is working well.

“It worked out fine, real great,” he said. “We expect to receive more funds from the state and have more mentor teachers. We were authorized two last year.” Smullen said the district might have as many as eight mentor teachers if funds are available.


The three candidates receiving the highest number of votes in the Nov. 5 election will win four-year terms on the five-member board. Board members receive no pay.

The school district’s boundaries generally follow the Hawthorne city limits, except for the Wiseburn area in the northwest and a section near Lawndale, which fall in other school districts.

It has nine schools, 4,997 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, 230 teachers and a budget of $12.5 million.

Statistics show that Anglos and Latinos, the two major ethnic groups in the school district, are almost evenly split. Anglos make up 40% of the student body, Latinos 35%, blacks 13% and Asians 12%. The economic status of areas in the district range from low to middle income, the figures show.


Educationally, district scores for 1983-84 on the California Assessment Program show younger students in the district doing better than older ones: Third graders scored in the 61st percentile in reading, in the 72nd percentile in writing and in the 75th percentile in mathematics, while sixth graders were in the 41st percentile for reading, 58th in writing and 57th in math. Eighth graders scored in the 23rd percentile in reading, in the 24th in writing and in the 25th in math.

Kenneth Blake, assistant superintendent for instruction, blamed the poorer results for eighth grade students on the former practice of keeping them in one classroom all day long. “It wasn’t working,” he said. In what is termed a “core” program, seventh and eighth graders now go from one classroom to another for different subjects. “This is going to turn around our scores in a couple of years,” he said.