Budget, Staff-Faculty Ratio Issues Raised in Rancho Santiago Races

Times Staff Writer

Budget management, community support and administration-faculty ratios are among issues being raised by challengers to incumbents in the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board of Trustees race.

One of the challengers, Alan S. Kaye, is a former trustee of North Orange County Community College District, which borders Rancho Santiago. Kaye says “quality has deteriorated” in the Rancho Santiago district.

Another challenger, Brian E. Conley, contends that there is “a disproportionate use of college money for non-instructional functions” in the college district.

David A. Valentine, also a challenger, contends that Rancho Santiago does not have enough community support.


Four of the seven seats on the Community College Board of Trustees will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. Incumbents Rodolfo Montejano, Hector G. Godinez, Michael Ortell and John L. Dowden are seeking reelection to another four-year term. Dowden is the incumbent in Trustee Area 3, where one person is to be elected. Montejano, Godinez and Ortell are incumbents in Trustee Area 1, where three seats are to be filled.

The challengers in Trustee Area 1 are Conley and Watson Lewis Warren. In Trustee Area 3, the challengers are Kaye and Valentine.

Rancho Santiago Community College District governs one community college, with a main campus in Santa Ana and branch campuses in Garden Grove and Orange. About 20,735 students attend the college.

Incumbents say the college has done a good job under their stewardship. The major problem they cite is getting more money from the state. They generally argue that they are in a better position than their challengers to work for that increase.


Montejano, 50, has been a trustee in the district for 17 years. He says the biggest problem the district faces is “the need for stable and fair state funding” and believes that his experience can help solve that problem.

“As an elected member of the Board of Directors of the California Community College trustees, I believe I can be instrumental in obtaining implementation and full funding of (the newly enacted) comprehensive community college reform bill,” Montejano says.

According to Godinez, 63, who has also been on the board 17 years, lack of an “adequate budget to support our programs, staff and facilities” is the major problem for Rancho Santiago. But he says the district has a good record of preparing students for vocational programs or transfer to four-year colleges or universities.

Transfer Students Succeed

“Rancho Santiago College graduates perform exceptionally well upon transfer, as compared to other students,” Godinez says.

Ortell, 45, who has been on the board for nine years, says he wants to “continue the programs set in place during my term of office.”

Ortell notes that Rancho Santiago College transfer students to UC Irvine “have a grade-point average of 3.03, while other community college transfers have (an average of) 2.86. The high quality of our teaching staff made this possible. As a professor of mathematics at Orange Coast College, I am in a unique position to judge quality instructors.”

Dowden, 54, who has been a trustee for 17 years, says he will “continue to seek additional funding to provide for growth in the district, particularly our Orange campus.”


He also wants “to maintain links with business and industry to increase the viability of our occupational programs.”

Conley, 39, who is head of the visual arts department at Golden West College and was a congressional aide in 1973-75 to former Rep. Jerome Waldie (D-Walnut Creek), criticizes Rancho Santiago for having too high a ratio of non-teaching staff, including administrators.

“The faculty’s instructional effort is the primary, the most central and most critical work performed in the district,” Conley says, adding, “I would channel more funds toward instructions and away from running a high administrative overhead.”

Conley has been endorsed by California Secretary of State March Fong Eu.

Kaye, 44, a linguistics professor at Cal State Fullerton, was a North Orange County Community College District trustee for four years before losing a race for reelection in 1983. At Rancho Santiago, Kaye says there is a “need to consolidate administrators and spend more on instruction and staff and student support services.”

President of Foundation

Valentine, 46, a realty company owner from Villa Park, was a teacher and administrator for 12 years before going into private business. He was also president of the fund-raising Rancho Santiago Foundation in 1986-87.

According to Valentine, the biggest problem in the district is “lack of good, solid community support.” He says his goals are to “represent local community standards” and to “provide liaison with business and education communities.”


Warren, whose ballot designation lists him as an engineer, did not respond to a questionnaire from The Times about his candidacy.


Voters will fill four seats Nov. 8 on the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board of Trustees. Three candidates are vying for one seat in Area 3. Five candidates, including three incumbents, are contesting three seats in Area 1.

A photograph of Area 1 candidate Watson Lewis Warren was not available. Area 1

Brian E. Conley Hector G. Godinez Rodolfo Montejano Michael Ortell Area 3

John L. Dowden Alan S. Kaye David A. Valentine