With three incumbents running and a fourth seat possibly up for a two-year term, Saugus Union School District officials announced they are seeking to retain their seats in November’s election.
“We’ve all pulled our papers, and we’re all supporting each other candidacies,” said Saugus Union board President Judy Umeck.
Umeck is seeking re-election, along with board member Doug Bryce and Paul De La Cerda.
“The four of us make a nice team,” she said, including board member Rose Koscielny, who’s not up for re-election until 2015. “And we’re looking forward to a fifth member of the team.”
The governing board, which oversees more than 10,000 kindergarten to sixth grade students on mostly the west side of the Santa Clarita Valley, has had an eventful year.
It has seen a second year of the recent addition of transitional kindergarten, a protracted struggle with a local charter school, the re-opening of Emblem Academy — which will happen this fall — and dealt with media attention of a since-expelled former board member Stephen Winkler.
Einstein Academy, which currently operates a junior high and high school in the Santa Clarita Valley, has received four denials of its petition to open a charter school in the Saugus Union School District. Einstein officials are appealing the district’s most recent decision to the county’s education office.
Winkler garnered regional media attention after he was censured by his fellow board members for allegedly making remarks his colleagues deemed inappropriate.
Winkler had his seat vacated the following week with a 4-1 vote after Saugus Union board members found him in violation of California’s education code over his living situation.
Regarding a potential fourth seat, Saugus Union officials are trying to determine if they can still have an election for it.
A decision could be made by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, or the situation could be referred to the county’s District Attorney’s Office, given the nature of the vacated seat.
Umeck said the board was awaiting a decision, but they were running out of time for an election per state law.
“If they refer it to the District Attorney’s Office, then we’re looking at a longer time frame,” she said.
Umeck will be seeking her fourth term on the school board, after she received her initial appointment in 1996 to replace Michael Kennick, who moved out of the district.
Bryce and De La Cerda will both be seeking a third term.
“The budget concerns have been a challenge and still continue to be, but we’re excited about some of the opportunities,” Umeck said, mentioning the district’s school-renovation project.
“I still think there’s a lot of economic uncertainty, especially as we embark on a new formula for funding,” she said. “But I think the advantages and opportunities for our students will outweigh the challenges.”