New school board member Paul Krekorian was the top vote-getter in the
April 8 runoff election, amassing 4,696 votes. Krekorian is one of
three new board members faced with shaving about $4 million off the
city’s projected $100-million spending plan before the end of June.
Krekorian, a 43-year-old attorney, recently invited the Leader into
his home to discuss his new role.
LEADER: Some people in the community were not happy with the way
the former board handled the budget crisis and its dismissal of Supt.
David Aponik. How would you have dealt with these issues?
KREKORIAN: I think with all difficult issues like these, the key
is to include the public to the greatest degree possible. I think
many people felt as though they had been left out of the process.
LEADER: How can a budget be adopted by June 30, if the state has
yet to decide how much money it will allocate to the district?
KREKORIAN: Creating a budget in the next six weeks is going to be
a great challenge under the best of circumstances.
We have three new members of the board who will be given the task
of wading through a $100-million operating budget and trying to
determine whether cuts will be necessary, and if so, what are the
choices we are going to make among many bad options because no one
wants to cut anything. And it’s going to be a challenge to try to
weigh those conflicting priorities and to develop our budget in a
final form in six weeks. One of the things that we’ll need to do is
work very closely with Assemblyman [Dario] Frommer and Sen. [Jack]
Scott to get the best possible information we can about what we can
expect the state budget to look like.
LEADER: Are the various provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act
practical in light of reduced education money?
KREKORIAN: I think that many of the unfunded mandates that are
included in the No Child Left Behind Act are probably impractical
even without funding cuts. One of the things that makes working in
local government especially difficult is when the federal government
and the state government impose mandates on us from a distance
without providing adequate funding to pay for those mandates.
The approach taken by the No Child Left Behind Act has been,
really in many respects, to punish schools which are not doing as
well as we would like them to do. And my view is that when we make
assessments based on testing to determine that some schools are not
performing as well as we would like, we need site-specific solutions
to those challenges that school teachers and administrators are
facing, and not to make it more difficult for them to do their job.
LEADER: How do you plan to create more of an open-door policy
between the board and the community?
KREKORIAN: I’d like to see us make a greater use of Channel 6 in
order to inform the public about what’s going on in the schools. I
intend to hold regular open office hours so that parents and anyone
else in the community can speak to me directly on a drop-in basis.
I am going to regularly visit school sites and talk with teachers
and, hopefully, talk to parents while I’m there as well. And I’d like
to set up regular community-based meetings with parents and community
members in different neighborhoods throughout the city ... so that
people have an opportunity to come and address their concerns to me
in a setting outside of a board meeting.
LEADER: Do you think that the large number of preliminary layoff
notices the district gave to employees on March 12 was necessary?
KREKORIAN: No, I think it was a mistake, and my concern is that
the result of that large number of preliminary notices has been that
we are going to lose some very good teachers that probably would not
have been laid off. I think it sent the wrong signal both to our
teachers and really to our parents and our students as well.
As we have seen by the large number of notices that have been
rescinded, it clearly was an excessive number. I think that by doing
that, it really was unduly disruptive of people’s expectations for
the coming year.