Three incumbents running for re-election to the Central Unified School District board each face one challenger in the Nov. 6 election.
Incumbent William Duane Peverill is running against Leonard G. Ramirez in Area 3, incumbent Cindy Berube's opponent is Becky Scott in Area 5, and incumbent Terry Cox squares off against Gene H. Kezirian in Area 6.
The fast-growing district spans a portion of northwest Fresno and a large area west of Highway 99. This year's enrollment is about 15,300, an increase of nearly 1,800 since 2006-07. District officials are preparing for two new elementary schools and a new high school in the near future.
Planning for growth is an ongoing challenge for the district, candidates said.
In Area 3, Peverill, 64, a retired Central Unified teacher who is completing his first trustee term, said he is proud of the district's continuing rise in standardized test scores and its healthy financial reserve.
He said stretching district dollars while giving students the best education possible is a priority. He said he will continue to push for staff training and smaller class sizes, which would allow for more one-on-one instruction.
Peverill, who taught 33 years for Central Unified, said he should be re-elected because, "I have the time to be active and be involved, and I have a great understanding of the education process and its issues."
Ramirez, 52, a special education teacher for the Fresno County Office of Education, said he wants to return to public service after a four-year term as Kingsburg Joint Union High School District trustee about 10 years ago. He said his experience would be an asset to the district.
He also would advocate for smaller class sizes and would like to see more money earmarked for classroom supplies.
Ramirez, who said he has been attending recent board meetings, wants more discussion among trustees to explain their votes to the public.
"This way there is more transparency in the decisions that are being made," he said.
In Area 5, Berube, 60, a nurse practitioner, said the district has built at least eight schools during her 21 years on the board and she wants to ensure that trustees stay ahead of growth.
She said she also wants to see the district remain sound financially and strong in its academic and athletic programs. Berube said she would continue to push for more vocational classes.
"My goal is for every student to have a career path, whether that is vocational or onto college," she said.
Berube also wants to ensure that the district's parents are informed of health care available to their children to help improve learning.
Scott, 69, a real estate broker, said she has been involved in the district over the years, serving on several school site councils.
She said as a trustee she would listen to concerns of staff and parents and have an open mind. She has been attending board meetings to familiarize herself with the district and issues, she said.
"I have some ideas, but I really don't want to say what my platform is because I don't want to go in with any preconceived notions," Scott said.
She said her experience in business for 40 years would be an asset to the board.
In Area 6, Cox, 54, who has been on the board since 2000, said she has been a longtime supporter of offering various paths for the district's graduates to attend college or purse vocational or technical careers.
Cox, a project manager and management analyst for the former Fresno Redevelopment Agency, would like to see more advanced placement and vocational classes and other courses offered.
"The reality is not all students will go to college," she said. "Therefore, our responsibility as educators and leaders is to allow them to have choices that start on solid ground."
Cox's priorities remain planning for growth, keeping the district sound financially and reducing class sizes, she said.
Kezirian, 57, a certified public accountant, said he would like to tighten district policies that deal with disruptive students. Habitual problem students should be removed from classrooms and placed in other programs, he said.
"When you have a student who is misbehaving, that student is stealing time from the teacher and the classroom," he said.
He said he would push for a policy that redirects students who don't want to be in school into vocational education programs.
"My experience is that the discipline policies currently in place either are ineffective or not properly enforced," he said.
Kezirian said he vows to allot more money for classroom supplies and lessons.
In June, Central Unified teachers, parents and faculty criticized trustees for approving annual raises to the top administrators, including Superintendent Mike Berg. But the decision hasn't surfaced as an issue in any of the school board races.
The contract was approved 4-3, with all three incumbents running for re-election -- Peverill, Berube and Cox -- voting against it.
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