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Harter, Malakoff to Resign Seats on Santa Barbara School Board

With two incumbents opting not to seek re-election, there are more open seats than candidates, so far.

It’s early in the election year, but thus far, the Santa Barbara School Board has more open seats than candidates.

Of the three incumbents up for re-election, two — Nancy Harter and Laura Malakoff — will not seek another term this fall. The third, Annette Cordero, has filed papers. A political newcomer, Susan Deacon, president of the nonprofit organization that supports the Elings Aquatics Center, has thrown her hat into the ring, leaving one open seat.

There is still time. The filing period closes Aug. 13 for political newcomers. Incumbents have until Aug. 8.

By way of comparison, two years ago, seven likely contenders attended an informational meeting about what the job entails in the first half of July.

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Nancy Harter
As for the two board members stepping aside, Harter, 55, has served two four-year terms and has long said that she didn’t plan to run for a third. The bigger surprise was Malakoff, who served just one term but before that served a four-year term on the Hope School Board.

“I’ve worked for eight years on this, between the Hope School Board and Santa Barbara School Board, and it’s enough for me,” she said. “I don’t have any big statement here.”

Malakoff, who turned 53 on Tuesday, said she is proud of the upgrades made to facilities as a result of local bond measures, as well as the hiring of Eric Smith, a business manager who has been widely credited for digging the district out of a financial mess.

One of the more difficult aspects of the job, she said, has been what she views to be the misplaced public perception that local schools aren’t successful.

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Laura Malakoff
“There’s a lot of unnecessary criticism of the schools,” said Malakoff, a psychology instructor at Cal State Channel Islands and Santa Barbara City College. “I think we have excellent schools, actually. Our three high schools are among the best in the state.”

Harter, before running for school board in 2000, helped lead the successful campaign for Measure V, a facilities bond for the high school district that has brought new swimming pools, theaters and stadiums to local high schools.

Harter said she, too, has been pleased with the district’s facility upgrades and newfound financial footing.

But she was reluctant to wax too reflective, saying her term still has four important months to go, noting, for instance, the parcel tax on the November ballot.

Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at [email protected]

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