Whittier City School District

Enrollment: 6,300

Areas served: Parts of Whittier and nearby unincorporated areas.

On the ballot: Seven candidates, including one incumbent and six challengers, for three seats. Trustee David R. Thomas resigned in June and will not seek reelection. Incumbent J.C. (Mac) McFarland did not file for reelection.

INCUMBENT

Owen Newcomer

Board member since 1989

Age: 45

Occupation: Political science teacher at Rio Hondo College

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: "As a community college teacher, I was not satisfied with the academic preparation of freshmen students, so I got involved in school politics." He said he is proud of belonging to a board that approved higher academic standards so that graduates "will have more options and will be more successful." He also voted to establish a committee composed of parents, educators and community members who meet over a period of five months to recommend how to best spend the district's limited budget. He wants to encourage more corporate support of programs, such as one funded by Hughes Aircraft Co. that links classrooms around the country via satellite. He doubts that the school system will merge with the area's high school district, but said such a merger would help in coordinating curriculum. He also supports charging a fee to property owners to help maintain district-owned public facilities such as tennis courts and stadiums.

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Rosaura A. Aguerrebere

Age: 42

Occupation: Bilingual elementary teacher in the Montebello Unified School District

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: "We can't just rely on the state to solve all our problems." She said she would work to get supplemental funding from businesses, universities, corporations and foundations. She favors merging the school system with the area's high school district. She said this "unification" would not only save administrative costs but provide comparable teacher salaries throughout the area, resulting in an increase for Whittier City teachers. "We wouldn't lose our fabulous teachers to the unified districts," said Aguerrebere, a former district teacher and administrator who also sat on the preschool board for the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. She supports charging an annual fee to property owners to maintain district-owned public recreational facilities such as tennis courts and stadiums. But property owners should not have to pay these fees to more than one school district, she said.

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David Eugene Gonzales

Age: 40

Occupation: Property manager

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: He said it is important for teachers to know foreign languages so they can communicate with their Asian and Latin American students. He advocates making teacher involvement in language training "a status thing" by honoring participants. He favors dress and behavior codes that would outlaw spiked hair, "suggestive movements" and T-shirts depicting violence. He supports lunchtime student groups to discuss religion. He said he supports charging an annual fee to property owners to maintain district-owned recreational facilities such as tennis courts and stadiums that are used by the public. "It's important for students to have places to go to do activities all over the city." He said he will observe what happens with the current proposal to divide the Los Angeles Unified School District before forming an opinion about merging the Whittier-area high school district with its five feeder elementary districts.

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Ted Saulino

Age: 53

Occupation: Elementary special-education teacher in the Garvey School District

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: He opposes school boards "operating in a vacuum without reaching out into the community." He advocates forming a committee of administrators, teachers, parents and other community members to suggest ways to improve education. The committee would seek more funding through grants and donations from businesses. He would consider a proposed merger with the area's high school district, but wants an advisory committee to study the issue and wants residents to vote on it. He opposes charging an annual fee to property owners to help maintain district-owned public recreational facilities such as tennis courts and stadiums. "I think there are other, more creative ways to get money than to put it on the shoulders of the homeowners," said Saulino, a former teacher of the year in the Garvey district. He said his experience as a teacher and active member of a teachers union makes him a candidate "with a total understanding of public education."

CHALLENGERS

Rosie T. Flores

Age: 63

Occupation: Retired office clerk

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: She said she is troubled when she hears of students' declining academic performance on television news reports or from teachers living in her neighborhood. "I don't think students are that concerned about learning. They're not being taught that it's important to learn." She supports a "child-parent-teacher cooperation" to draw students into learning. She said she would work to develop programs encouraging teachers to become more involved with their students "one-on-one" and to contact parents when children are having trouble. She advocates providing tutors to students who continue to have problems after efforts are made to involve their parents. She supports merging the high school district with its five feeder elementary districts. And she supports charging an annual fee to property owners for upkeep of district-owned public recreational facilities such as tennis courts and stadiums if the spending is regulated.

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Charles Hurley

Age: 44

Occupation: Elementary teacher in the Garvey School District

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: "I would like to see that teachers are empowered." He said teachers are more qualified than administrators to choose their materials and methods, because they have more contact with the students. As a board member he would "guide the decisions of the teachers and management, not make them." He advocates developing a round table of teachers, administrators and board members to cut superfluous spending. He supports merging the high school district with its five feeder elementary districts to provide education "under one umbrella," and reduce administrative costs. He said his diverse background in education--as both a former principal of St. Aloysius, a private Catholic school in Los Angeles, and as an elementary public school teacher--makes him a qualified candidate. He opposes charging an annual fee to property owners to help maintain district-owned public recreational facilities.

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Monica Rosado

Age: 26

Occupation: Teacher of mentally disabled elementary students

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: Her top issue, she said, is lobbying to oppose a state ballot initiative that would provide students with vouchers to attend public or private schools. She said her five years of experience as an instructor, teaching bilingual students and mentally disabled pupils, makes her a qualified candidate because "I understand the different aspects of education." She opposes charging property owners an annual fee to maintain district-owned public recreational facilities. "We get taxed enough. Why should homeowners have to pay for school?" She would support raising taxes for households with students. This revenue could help reduce classroom sizes and pay for more teachers. She said that merging the Whittier-area high school district with its five feeder elementary districts would be detrimental educationally and could also eliminate teaching positions.

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