With contract negotiations and potential budget cuts looming, three incumbents face a single challenger as voters in the Arcadia Unified School District go to the polls Tuesday to elect three school board members.
Gene F. Shepherd, an Alhambra Police Department lieutenant, said he decided to make his first bid for elective office when it appeared that incumbents G. Michael Allison, Robert E. Kladifko and James A. Bryant would be unopposed in their attempts to retain the seats they won in 1983.
Had Shepherd not become a candidate, there would have been no election, said district Assistant Supt. Dennis Chuning.
"I think a breath of fresh energy on the school board is better than not having an election at all," Shepherd said.
The top three vote-getters will be elected to four-year terms on the board, which sets policy for the district's 11 schools, attended by 7,517 students.
Only the 28,884 registered voters living within the boundaries of the district, which includes Arcadia and parts of Temple City and Sierra Madre, are eligible to vote.
2 Seats Open in 1989
The seats of board members Mary E. Dougherty and William H. Spuck, who were elected to the board in 1985, will be open in 1989.
Shepherd, 38, who has taught law enforcement, government and physics part time at Alhambra and San Gabriel high schools and East Los Angeles Community College, said he decided to run because he is dissatisfied with the current board and believes he could provide new energy and dedication to the school district.
If elected, Shepherd said, he would try to improve methods of evaluating the proficiency of teachers and strengthen discipline and curriculum in the district.
Shepherd, a six-year resident of Arcadia, has three children in district schools.
Kladifko, 52, an educator for 27 years who has served as board president since July, said he wants to stay on the board so that he can "continue working toward the goals and objectives established two years ago" to improve the curriculum and instruction strategies.
Kladifko said he had helped improve procedures for evaluating teachers. He also cited his role in establishing the district's Chemical Abuse Prevention Program, a counselor-led student group in which students talk about their feelings and problems and receive information on how to prevent alcohol and drug abuse.
More Drug Testing
Kladifko said he favors expanding the voluntary drug testing program at Arcadia High School to include all students. The program is now open only to athletes and student leaders, he said.
For three years, Kladifko has been director of secondary school instruction for the Los Angeles Unified School District's Region B, which includes Huntington Park, South Gate, Bell and South-Central Los Angeles.
Kladifko, whose administrative career began in 1966, has been an assistant principal and principal in the Los Angeles district.
"I'm the only educator on the board, and I find that lends itself very well to the experience of the other board members," he said.
Kladifko, who has lived in Arcadia for 20 years, has a son attending Arcadia High School. His three other children graduated from the school.
Allison, 51, is general manager of the May Co. in Arcadia. He said he is "very budget-oriented" because he is responsible for his store's budget.
Allison, whose three children are graduates of district schools, said his business expertise will help the board if it has to cut programs under Gov. George Deukmejian's proposed budget, which increases school funding by only 1.1%. He said the district needs a 4.5% increase to maintain its programs.
"We've got serious problems if we're not able to get (a bigger) increase," Allison said, adding that the district would have to cut $800,000 in programs if Deukmejian's budget is approved.
Allison said the district should include elementary schools in its chemical abuse program and have high school students visit those schools to speak on the dangers of substance abuse. He, too, favors expanding the high school drug testing program.
Bryant, 48, an engineering manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said he was a leader in establishing the district's C-average policy, under which students must maintain a satisfactory grade point average to participate in extracurricular activities, including athletics and band.
If reelected, Bryant said, he will continue to work to improve the curriculum--especially science programs--and try to get more funding for teachers to attend classes to update teaching methods.
"Some teachers have not had supplemental training for five years," he said.
Bryant said he and his wife and three children are all graduates of Arcadia High School. He, too, favors an expanded drug testing program at the high school, but he would allow parents to volunteer their children for testing rather than have the students volunteer themselves, as is the case now.
Kladifko, Allison and Bryant said they want the schools to teach students about acquired immune deficiency syndrome. They all said public forums should be held to solicit residents' opinions about how AIDS should be discussed in the classroom.
Shepherd said he was surprised that instruction on AIDS had not already begun in the schools. He said students should be taught about the disease both at home and at school. Under his plan, parents would have to verify to the school that they had discussed the disease with their children.