GLENDALE ELECTIONS : SCHOOLS : Challengers Call Incumbents Unresponsive


In a low-budget election with little disagreement on the issues, two challengers have questioned two veteran Glendale Board of Education incumbents over their age, vitality and long tenure on the board.

Meanwhile, a Glendale planning commissioner is winding up a low-key effort to unseat one of two incumbents running for reelection to the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees.

Neither race has been highly visible. The seven candidates have distributed postcards to voters, posted yard signs and presented their views at a handful of public forums. Most of the candidates have spent less than a few thousand dollars each on their campaigns.

Peter Musurlian, a 29-year-old congressional aide, and Robert Burlison, a 37-year-old attorney, are challenging incumbents Sharon Beauchamp, 50, and Blanch Greenwood, 74, in Tuesday's school board election. Beauchamp, who is president of the five-member board, and Greenwood together have spent 28 years in office.

The board oversees 27 schools, nearly 26,000 students and an annual operating budget of about $100 million. It voted last year to institute year-round education at six elementary schools in July, with two more slated to follow in July, 1992.

The candidates have discussed the year-round schedule, a lack of involvement in their children's education by parents, looming budget cuts of at least $2.1 million and upcoming contract negotiations with teachers. They have also targeted as a critical issue shortfalls in state education funds and a possible suspension of Proposition 98, which guarantees schools a share of state lottery income.

The Glendale Teachers Assn. has questioned the candidates about their positions regarding local discussions of ways to increase the amount of say teachers have in how schools are run as well as a statewide campaign by the union to make it easier to get bond measures for schools approved.

But the campaign has been dominated by charges by the challengers that Beauchamp and Greenwood are entrenched traditionalists who have lost their creativity. In response, the incumbents say they are seasoned board members who have the know-how to change with the times.

The Glendale Teachers Assn. did not endorse any of the candidates, but did issue a vague assessment of them. Based on the candidates' positions on five issues, however, the union gave Burlison six out of 10 possible points, Musurlian and Beauchamp five, and Greenwood three.

Musurlian and Burlison have sought to distinguish themselves from the incumbents by emphasizing their youth, vigor and newcomers' perspectives. Burlison jokingly has called the pair a "tag team," and they consistently have lauded each other's platforms.

"We're really the future-oriented candidates," said Musurlian, a field representative for Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Glendale). He and Burlison advocate a voluntary limit of two four-year terms for board members.

The incumbents have lost their energy and enthusiasm, he said.

Beauchamp, who has spent 12 years on the board, and Greenwood, who has served 16, staunchly maintain that questions about their vitality are meant to obscure a lack of more substantial issues. They said their long tenure demonstrates their dedication and experience.

They also said the decision to begin year-round education, their efforts to curb crowding in schools and the formation last year of a committee to draft a long-term strategic plan for the district reflect their ability to react to contemporary problems.

"Just because you've been there for 12 years, just because you're 50 years old, you lose the ability to think, to be creative?" Beauchamp said, facetiously. "I don't in any way feel that I'm a rubber stamp, that I can't think, that I don't have a lot of ideas."

The incumbents' longtime service has not been the only subject of the challengers' criticism. Musurlian chastised the board for voting recently to improve medical benefits for retired members, and he pledged to accept only half of the monthly $400 stipend paid to board members.

Musurlian also criticized the board for ignoring the growing problems of gangs and drugs in the schools.

"Certainly Glendale is not L. A. . . . but how much of a priority are school board members making crime?" he said. "I don't think they've been showing adequate leadership on this issue."

He and the incumbents have disagreed throughout the campaign over the number of students who are gang members and the frequency of campus assaults.

Burlison, a Hoover High School graduate, has criticized the board for rubber-stamping proposals made by Supt. Robert Sanchis and other administrators, and for being too complacent and unresponsive.

During meetings, he said, board members rarely ask questions or comment on issues. When he appeared last year before the board to present information on year-round education and ask for more involvement of parents, the incumbents were silent, he said.

"They listen, but they don't act," Burlison said. "They listen, but they don't question. They hear, but they don't say anything. Don't you think they ought to be a little more public with their feelings?"

Burlison, like Musurlian, has pledged to hold monthly public forums. He has also proposed that various PTAs offer a baby-sitting service so that parents can attend more board meetings and school functions.

As a member of a district planning committee, he said he has proposed several fund-raising ideas, including starting bingo games and more booster clubs.

Greenwood, a church secretary who was first elected in 1975, has dismissed the criticism as jealousy. She said she visits schools at least once a week and has lobbied legislators in Sacramento for more funds, but prefers to establish broad policies rather than dictate specific actions by the administration.

"Primarily, we determine the policy and expect the superintendent to carry it out," she said. "We don't get involved in the nitty-gritty because that's his job. . . . It would just slow things down if we got in there and did it."

Beauchamp, who owns a secretarial service in Glendale, also defended the board's record, saying members discuss issues and ask questions before their bimonthly meetings.

"One of the things that makes our board so successful is that if there are questions, if there are concerns, we do our homework before each meeting," she said. "We're prepared to vote the night we go. It's an atmosphere that we've created, to show that we have a cohesive district."

Beauchamp, who as a California School Boards Assn. member lobbies legislators in Sacramento twice a year, said she frequently visits classrooms, attends PTA meetings, and talks to teachers and school-site administrators.

In the community college election, attorney Don Pearson, 49, is challenging Rae Berry, 73, a community activist and retired businesswoman, and Robert Holmes, 43, an attorney and part-time teacher at Glendale College. Both Berry and Holmes are seeking third four-year terms on the five-member board.

Berry and Holmes received endorsements from the college's Faculty Senate and both the teachers and classified employees unions.

Pearson has praised the Board of Trustees for overseeing an ongoing campus construction and renovation plan, and generally has offered little disagreement with its policies.

"I'm not one who is taking the position that the college isn't doing well or that the board isn't effective," Pearson said. "Still, people may say this would be an opportunity for a new voice on the board."

Pearson said he wants to increase communication and the sharing of resources between the college and city. He has criticized the incumbents for not yet solving the campus parking crunch, which the candidates agree is one of the school's most pressing problems.

All three candidates support a proposal now being drafted in which the college would build a parking structure on a city-owned parking lot next to the Civic Auditorium and across the street from the campus. Under the plan, the city would donate the lot to the college or lease it at a low cost.

Pearson and Berry said they also want to increase car-pooling, and shuttle and RTD bus service to the campus.

Berry said she wants to expand the college's programs for older students by offering classes that meet once a week for longer periods of time rather than three times a week. She has also proposed tightening graduation requirements to better prepare students to transfer to four-year schools.

Berry said she has been instrumental in establishing a self-sufficient child development center on the campus. She also helped initiate the school's alumni association and re-entry program for returning students, she said.

Holmes said he has supported the campus' multimillion-dollar renovation campaign, expansion of a satellite campus in south Glendale and new programs for a growing number of foreign students.

Holmes began teaching a weekly law course at the college in 1976, but gave up his teaching salary when he became a board member in 1983. He also donates his monthly board stipend of $225 to the college's fund-raising foundation, he said.


Sharon Beauchamp, 50, is vying for a fourth four-year board term. She has lived in Glendale for 28 years and owns a local secretarial service. She is a former Glendale Community College District trustee, a founder of the Crescenta Valley Town Council and a member of the California School Boards Assn. Both of her children attended Glendale schools.

Robert Burlison, 37, an attorney, has lived in Glendale for 21 years. He is president of the Glendale Teen Center, which is scheduled to open in June. He has served on the Balboa Elementary School PTA, a task force that studied year-round education and a committee that is drafting a long-range plan for the school district. He has two children who attend Balboa Elementary School.

Blanch Greenwood, 74, is a church secretary seeking a fifth term. A Glendale resident since 1949, she has been president of several PTAs and community organizations, including Foothill Youth Services and Glendale Family Services. She has served on county and state associations for school district board members and has had four children in local schools.

Peter Musurlian, 29, is a field representative for Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Glendale). The former television reporter grew up in Torrance and has lived in Glendale for two years. He has served on a committee that is drafting a long-range plan for the school district and is a member of several PTAs, although he has no children.


Rae Berry, 73, a retired businesswoman, is seeking a third four-year board term. A Glendale resident since 1950, she served on at least a dozen community education committees before joining the board in 1983. She founded the Greater Glendale Child Care Council and has been endorsed by the college's Faculty Senate, faculty union and classified employees union.

Robert Holmes, 43, is an attorney who has lived in Glendale for 17 years. He is seeking a third term on the board. He has taught a weekly law class at Glendale College since 1976, but gave up his salary in 1983 when he was elected to the board. He has been endorsed by the college's Faculty Senate, faculty union and classified employees union.

Don Pearson, 49, is a Glendale planning commissioner and an attorney who has lived in Glendale since 1968. He is president of the board of a private school in La Canada Flintridge and is a leader of his church and a local Boy Scouts chapter. He has taught taxation law at USC. He, his wife and his two children have taken classes at Glendale College.

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