Monday, March 19 , 2018, 3:30 pm | Fair 67º


Santa Barbara Unified Says Goodbye to 4 School Board Members

Gayle Eidelson, Ed Heron, Monique Limón and Pedro Paz attend last meeting before new members sworn in

Santa Barbara Unified school board members Ed Heron, Monique Limón, Pedro Paz and Gayle Eidelson attend their last meeting Thursday night.
Santa Barbara Unified school board members Ed Heron, Monique Limón, Pedro Paz and Gayle Eidelson attend their last meeting Thursday night.  (Barbara Keyani / Santa Barbara Unified School District photo)

Four of the five Santa Barbara Unified School District board members attended their final meeting last week, and were given a heartfelt sendoff beforehand by district principals, staff, and community members.

Superintendent Cary Matsuoka, whom the current board hired this year, said Gayle Eidelson, Ed Heron, Monique Limón and Pedro Paz will all be greatly missed.

Eidelson, Heron and Paz decided not to run for another term, and Limón, who has served six years on the board, is resigning after being elected to the state Assembly as the 37th District representative.

Laura Capps, Jackie Reid and Wendy Sims-Moten will be seated on the board at the Dec. 13 meeting, and the district will have to find another person to take Limon’s spot.

Eidelson, who has seven children, was always the one who knew what was happening on the school level, Heron said.

She was very involved in the district even before her election to the board, said Donna Ronzone, former principal of Roosevelt School and current director of visual and performing arts for the district.

Paz said he never missed a board meeting in his four years, and tried to give his all to the district. He said he will miss not getting to work closely Matsuoka over the following years.

Sims-Moten works with Paz at First 5 Santa Barbara County, and recounted a time the office had a dumpster fire outside and Paz was on his way to a board meeting.

He handed her the fire extinguisher and told her to finish off the fire, she said, because he had a board meeting to get to.

Now it feels like he’s handing off the board seat as well, she said.

Limón, who was a student at Harding University Partnership School and Cleveland Elementary in the district, said she didn’t want her story to be an anomaly.

She is those students in classrooms today, she said.

Other board members thanked her for always challenging them and having the best interests of students at heart.

Heron has spent his eight years on the board visiting classrooms, attending school events, meeting with stakeholder groups and working with Partners in Education’s Computers for Families program in addition to his board member duties.

District staff thanked him for always asking questions about the budget.

Board member Kate Parker was recognized as the “lone survivor,” who has been on the board since 2006.

Santa Barbara Unified’s November school board race was uncontested, with three candidates being appointed in lieu of election for the three open seats.

There were 59 school board seats up for election this year in Santa Barbara County, but 41 of them were uncontested, so every qualifying candidate will be appointed without a single vote ever being cast in their name.

The lack of participation is not a new issue.

Of those 41 off-ballot school board seats, 19 candidates were incumbents who were previously appointed to the position, either in lieu of election or to fill a vacancy. Those 19 people are able to serve at least two terms without any say from residents who live in the district.

In four school districts —​ Blochman, Cuyama, Hope and Solvang — not enough people ran for the available seats, which will lead to vacancy appointments, again without voters having a say.

Santa Barbara Unified board member Kate Parker, right, has served since 2006 and will be the only veteran member left when the newcomers get appointed in December. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Unified board member Kate Parker, right, has served since 2006 and will be the only veteran member left when the newcomers get appointed in December.  (Barbara Keyani / Santa Barbara Unified School District photo)

School board members make district policy priorities, manage the budget, spend bond and parcel tax revenues, negotiate with bargaining units, decide on student disciplinary issues including suspensions and expulsions, appoint board members in case of vacancy, and hire superintendents, in most cases.

Most districts have board members serve a four-year term and receive a monthly stipend of a few hundred dollars.

The Santa Barbara County Elections Office candidate guide has school board member qualifications including: be a registered voter within the district, a citizen of the state, and not an employee of the district.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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