Interim Superintendent Matt Beecher administers the oath of office to Vedamarie Alvarez-Flores, who was selected Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the Santa Maria-Bonita School District board of trustees. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A retired educator was appointed Tuesday afternoon to fill a vacancy on the Santa Maria-Bonita School District board of trustees.

Vedamarie Alvarez-Flores, 64, was unanimously selected by the remaining four board members after interviews with the four candidates who applied.

The empty seat became available when longtime board member Fidenzio “Bruno” Brunello resigned after serving 14 years on the board. 

Alvarez-Flores worked for 39 years in the district, retiring June 13, 2013.

She was a teacher at Ontiveros Elementary School, and also served as a coordinator for the Beginning Teacher Program.

After hearing from the candidates, the four board members ranked them, with Alvarez-Flores being the first choice. 

“I’m very pleased with the choice because I think Veda has a longtime influence in our school community, and we know that she is here for our kids,” said board member JoAnn “Jody” Oliver.

“I think her connection with the community as a whole is probably a greater strength than the work she has done within the school district,” added board member Linda Cordero. 

The other candidates who applied were another retired educator, Helen Galvan, who also has remained active in the district and the community; Nancy Felton, who participated in an attempt to recall a board member several years ago and worked to help the district get voters’ approval for a bond campaign; and Raymond Acosta, a parent who works at a local grocery store.

Board members asked the four candidates one question each during interviews at the start of Tuesday’s special meeting, focusing on challenges facing the district, the role of a board member and more.

“We have lot of challenges, but I also feel we have lots of opportunities and I’m looking forward to embracing them,” Alvarez-Flores said. 

Born and raised in Santa Maria, she attended the district’s schools before returning to teach there. A daughter now teaches in the district and her grandchildren are enrolled in the schools.

Through the years, she said, she has attended board meetings and noted the amount of information and collaboration involved in the job of a board member.

If approached by a special-interest group, she said she would listen to the concerns.

“I don’t react immediately because that’s not my nature,” she said. “The best thing I can do is work collaboratively because that’s what I believe a school board needs to do. I can’t individually grant or say this is going to be the answer to your situation because I don’t believe that’s my role.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.