Six of the nine candidates running for seats on the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education answered questions this week from a live audience and cable television viewers during a forum sponsored by the local Parent-Teacher Assn. council.
The candidates are running for three open at-large seats on the school board in the Tuesday election. Three candidates who will appear on the ballot did not attend the forum.
Running for the open seats are:
Thomas J. Burnham, 37, a management consultant; William M. Dunkelberger, 38, a salesman; George M. Gallagher, 30, a research scientist; Mary Ellen Hadley, 48, a two-term incumbent; William P. Long, 33, an airport operations coordinator; Daniel C. Moore Jr., a purchaser who is running as a write-in candidate; Genovica Niculescu-Balteanu, 60, a mechanical engineer; Michael B. Regele, 39, an appointed incumbent, and Annita A. Sharpe, 31, a communications executive.
Dunkelberger, Niculescu-Balteanu and Sharpe did not attend Tuesday’s forum, held in the school board meeting room and shown live on Irvine’s community cable channel.
Money was a big subject during the forum as candidates talked about how the school district can seek more funds in times when state educational allocations are dwindling.
Burnham said the school district needs a stronger lobbying effort in Sacramento to persuade legislators to allocate more money to local school districts. He also said he would use his business skills to help negotiate labor contracts that are good for both the district and employees.
Gallagher said the district should seek corporate sponsorship of athletics and educational programs, but should be careful to avoid one company taking control of the funding process.
Hadley said the district should continue its effort to add to a corporate endowment fund and also try to organize with other school districts to lobby the Legislature for more funding. Long also said the district should begin more aggressive state lobbying for education dollars and should seek changes to the state lottery, which now funds only a tiny percentage of education.
Moore suggested that the school district try to recruit volunteer teachers from nearby universities and solicit more money and educational participation from local corporations. Regele called for the district’s educational focus to move away from training children for industrial jobs and instead aim at training them for technological jobs of the future.