Ellen Multari has moved around a lot, from Illinois, Oregon and Northern California to La Cañada, and has always made a point to get involved in her children’s school districts.
“I’ve seen a wide variety of school offerings,” Multari said. “My M.O. has been to throw myself head-first into the school systems that my kids are in. It’s a passion for me.”
Multari announced this week she will be throwing her hat in the ring for one of two open seats on the La Cañada Unified School District’s Governing Board in the next election, which takes place on Nov. 8.
Cindy Wilcox and Jeanne Broberg’s positions on the school board will each be up for grabs in the upcoming election. There will be at least one new face on the board, as Wilcox in March announced she won’t be seeking reelection.
Multari first became interested in running for the school board before the 2009 elections. She felt she didn’t have enough gravitas to be a player at that point after moving to La Cañada in 2007, so she decided to hold off.
“I wanted to give myself more time to learn the school system better and what our challenges are and reevaluate what I have to offer,” Multari said. “It would have been premature for me to run at that point. Now just feels like the right time.”
For the past two years, Multari has been studying LCUSD from the ground level. She’s served as a member of the Palm Crest Elementary and La Cañada High Site Council, as financial secretary for Palm Crest’s PTA, as a member of the district’s bond oversight committee, as an auditor for LCHS’ 7/8 PTA, as a director for the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation and as a district task-force site leader.
“I certainly have gotten to know a lot of the players and organizations that support the schools,” she said. “It’s given me a tremendous background into the different aspects of what each organization has done for the schools.”
Multari said she isn’t a one-issue candidate. She’s more concerned with the overall quality of education in LCUSD and the board’s communication with the public, especially regarding the district’s financial outlook.
“We need to make the budget information painfully obvious to everyone so there’s no misunderstanding,” she said.
Current Governing Board President Susan Boyd has seen Multari at work at PTA meetings and has been impressed.
“The thing I’ve found working with her is that she’s involved for all the right reasons,” Boyd said. “She does it to help, not because she has any hidden agendas she wants to push. I think she’d be a good addition to the board.”
The two seats Broberg and Wilcox currently occupy have been awarded without an election the past two times they’ve been open because there have only been two candidates running. Boyd said she doesn’t know how many candidates will come forward this year.
“It could go either way,” Boyd said. “I think people will either be intimidated by the budget problems and not want to be apart of it, or they will want to be in the middle of it because it could be challenging and they want to be apart of those decisions.”
Multari knows serving on the school board will be difficult, thanks to possible reductions in state funding.
“I don’t think the situation is on the verge of collapse,” she said. “We are in a position to do something. We have a very valuable product that’s worth protecting, and I think it’s worth my time and energy.”
The candidate-filing period for the Nov. 8 school board election begins in July.