Fresno Unified board members sworn in

The Fresno BeeDecember 12, 2012 

Fresno Unified's three recently elected school board members were sworn in Wednesday night, and Trustee Valerie Davis was re-elected board president. But the seat for the McLane High area representative still hangs in the balance.

Christopher De La Cerda -- who was recently appointed to the seat but may have to step down if the job is put to a public vote -- said at Wednesday's board meeting that he would run for the post if a special election is called.

"I really want to continue what I started here," said De La Cerda, a former special education teacher.

He was appointed by board members in November to fill the vacancy of Tony Vang, who resigned in September amid growing controversy over his residency in the McLane area.

A group of teachers, parents and students, however, objected to the appointment, gathered signatures from McLane area residents and submitted a petition this month to force a special election. The county Office of Education is in the process of verifying whether enough valid signatures were collected.

If the office calls a special election, De La Cerda would be removed from the board and the seat would remain vacant until a new trustee is elected.

De La Cerda said he wants to remain on the board to make sure Fresno Unified School District remains strong for his three daughters and the other children of District 4.

He said he wouldn't mind running for the office if it wasn't for the cost of a special election, which could be as much as $125,000.

"I'm a little disappointed because of the money it's going to take away from the district," he said.

Newly elected board member Luis Chavez joined two re-elected incumbents in taking the oath of office Wednesday night. Chavez came out on top in a three-way Nov. 6 contest in the Roosevelt High area to replace Larry Moore, who stepped down.

Carol Mills won re-election in the Fresno High area and Janet Ryan won in the Hoover High area.

In other news, the 73,000-student school district will not be making cuts in the foreseeable future, thanks primarily to the passage of Proposition 30, said district Chief Financial Officer Ruth Quinto.

The district's 2012-13 general fund of about $635 million will see a net gain of $17.5 million as a result of the voter-approved tax initiative, according to Quinto.

The budget will also benefit from about $3 million in savings that the district has made so far this year -- from salaries, supplies and other expenses.

"We are in a better position," Quinto told the board.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6679, or @KurtisInValley on Twitter.

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