El Rancho Unified School District

Fourteen Southeast and Long Beach area school systems and three community college districts will have board elections Nov. 2. This is one in a series examining election issues in some of the districts.

Enrollment: 10,000

Area served: Pico Rivera

On the ballot: Seven candidates, including three incumbents and four challengers

INCUMBENTS

Frank P. Boyce

Age: 53

Occupation: Letter carrier

Residence: Pico Rivera

Remarks: "I'm hoping people have trusted me for 15 years. A big emphasis for me was the libraries in the school district." Despite stiff cuts in the last three years, "We have libraries at all school sites, and they're staffed by library clerks. I helped create the Hall of Fame at El Rancho High School for graduates who were successful." He said he is also proud of helping to bring a health education program to El Rancho. He favors the sale of Obregon Elementary School and 31 acres of adjoining land because the funds will be used for renovation of district schools. Some are more than 30 years old. "They have to be upgraded," he said.

Frank Millan

Board member since 1989

Age: 41

Residence: Pico Rivera

Occupation: Sheet metal workers' union representative

Remarks: "We have a parcel of land that is owned by the school district that we are attempting to develop. I definitely support it. It would bring us enough money to make us financially solvent for the next 20 years. We've had three solid years of cuts. We had already cut to the bone last year. If we don't have any money, and the state budget doesn't seem to be getting better, we may have another round of cuts. I don't think it's a very good idea to sit back and hope for the best. I look at the school district as a business. Always have. We have to address the issues on a business level." He supports the involvement of younger candidates in school politics. "I think we really should have term limits and have some new people come aboard. I ran for City Council last year. Most of the folks who are challengers are young folks, and I'd like to see more of that.

E.A. (Pete) Ramirez

Board member since 1976

Age: 54

Occupation: Police officer

Residence: Pico Rivera

Remarks: He favors the sale of the Obregon property because "it's going to bring a tremendous amount of money to the coffers. We'll be able to use this money to improve school sites. I think we've handled budget cuts very well. We didn't lay off any people. We were solvent and we were able to give employees a raise. We've had to make drastic cuts in the last couple of years or so of about $3.2 million. When I first came on board, I was appalled to see the buses didn't have two-way radios." He pushed for putting two-way radios on buses. "We used lottery money when it first started to buy tangible things for the district. We have things to show for it that other districts don't have," such as new lights, bleachers and an electronic scoreboard for the football field. He worked to introduce a program that offers free psychological counseling to students with problems in school or who have been in trouble with the law.

CHALLENGERS

Lupe Salas

Age: 27

Occupation: Rio Hondo College student and supermarket cashier

Residence: Pico Rivera

Remarks: "We need to have an increase in staff and parent involvement. We should be able to provide (more) preschool education. I believe the education needs to start at a younger age." She believes the district should actively lobby for more money for preschool. "We should let them know we need more preschool education. I understand we're going through budget cuts, but we need to keep sight of what's important." Beyond preschool, the district needs classes that better motivate students to learn, she said. "Students come across a lot of negatives in school. They need to be able to cope with that, because things are not easy right now. If they're not getting (support) at home, they have to be able to get that at school."

Lawrence R. (Larry) Cazares

Age: 38

Occupation: Transportation consultant

Residence: Pico Rivera

Remarks: "The really critical issue right now is making education the focus of what the school district does." A father of eight, Cazares serves on parent volunteer committees that advise the district what to do with the budget and surplus property. "We have surplus property in excess of $10 million. They have spent over the years thousands of dollars on reports telling them to do something with the Obregon property. I think they should do something right now, and they should move on other sites as well." He helped found a volunteer group of parents who organize weekend science activities at North Ranchito Elementary School, and he supports an expansion of the gifted student program. "I'd like to increase those enrichment opportunities for the entire student population for those who choose to participate."

Eleanor C. Cole

Age: 41

Occupation: Bookkeeper at El Rancho High School

Residence: Pico Rivera

Remarks: "I think they need to have someone on the board that has a lot of accounting background. I've always been an involved parent. I've been a bookkeeper at a law firm and at various industries. I think I have a good overall background as to where administrators are coming from, where teachers are coming from, and where the parents are coming from. I would like to see programs that delve into getting back to the basics and getting our kids to read and spell correctly. We need to have a hard-hitting program in literacy and utilize a lot of kids to help their peers. Sometimes teen-agers can be a help to kids their age." She wants the district to do more to encourage students in the sciences. She said she would resign from her job if she wins a board seat.

Rita Jo Ramirez

Age: 50

Occupation: Administrative assistant

Residence: Pico Rivera

Remarks: "I strongly believe it's time for change. We need new people on board to build a much-needed bridge between the board and the community." She has been a PTA volunteer and a paid instructional aide and typist in the school district. "As a community person going to board meetings, I feel a lot of community members and employees need to be respected for their ideas. This goes for children, parents and employees of the district. It's not going to be an overnight thing. We need to get down with the community more, listen to them, be available to them more, visit the schools and the classrooms, see what's going on the classrooms, see what the children's needs are, and have more open communication with the community as a whole. I think they need to feel like they can trust someone. I feel I can do that. I feel like I'm one of them."

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