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Krekorian advocates open doors

Molly Shore

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.