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ORANGE : Candidates Outline Plans for Schools

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With the Nov. 2 election less than a week away, candidates for the Orange Unified School District board differed sharply as they outlined their budgetary priorities at a public forum this week.

Eleven candidates are vying for four open seats on the school board. Incumbents John Hurley (Trustee Area 1) and Alan E. Irish (Area 7) are seeking reelection, but board President Lila Beavens (Area 4) and Barry Resnick (Area 5) are stepping down after one term on the board.

On Monday night, candidates Max Reissmueller (Area 5), Rick Ledesma (Area 7) and Frank Noble (Area 4) said the board could save crucially needed dollars by offering less-generous health insurance plans to district employees.

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Under current policies, district employees can choose from three health insurance plans and do not have to pay extra for dependent coverage.

Ledesma, 31, is a corporate cost analyst from Orange; Noble, 50, is a business insurance broker, also from Orange.

“We have the Cadillac of health benefits packages,” said Reissmueller, a 25-year-old electronics technician supervisor from Santa Ana.

But Marvella McAllister (Area 7) argued that the district would lose “good teachers,” if health benefits were reduced. Instead of tampering with health-care packages, money could be saved by re-evaluating the pay of top school administrators, she said. The district ranks 10th out of 12 in the county in teacher salaries, but it is among the top when it comes to paying its highest administrators, she said.

“We need to bring everything into alignment,” said McAllister, 44, a businesswoman from Santa Ana.

Hurley, however, said the district’s primary budgetary emphasis should be on school maintenance.

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“When the walls are crumbling around you, it matters not about salaries,” said Hurley, 65, a college instructor from Anaheim. “I want campuses that look good and are safe.”

The other five candidates are: Martin Jacobson (Area 1), 40, an accountant; James H. Fearns (Area 4), 63, a youth probation officer; William Parker (Area 4), 65, a Riverside County school superintendent; Mara Brandman (Area 5), 48, a community activist, and Terri Sargeant (Area 5), 40, a part-time county planner. Jacobson is from Anaheim; the rest are from Orange.

Another candidate forum has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Orange High School, 525 N. Shaffer St.

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