Ending months of speculation, Los Angeles Board of Education member Tom Bartman said Monday that he will not run for reelection in the April 9 municipal primary.
Bartman made his announcement two days before the opening of the filing period for the spring election. His decision not to run means that the West San Fernando Valley will be the only school board seat up for election that will not have an incumbent running.
Board members Roberta Weintraub, who represents the East San Fernando Valley, and Alan Gershman from the Westside both have indicated they will seek reelection.
Bartman, 39, said his decision "didn't have anything to do with politics." He said he had realized that being a board member has become a full-time job.
"I have grown quite close to this place," Bartman said after he had made his announcement. "But I ran for office with the idea that this would be an avocation, not a vocation. I simply believe that . . . I could no longer maintain the same level of participation."
Bartman was the attorney for Bustop, the anti-mandatory busing organization, when he was elected to the board in 1980 to fill an unexpired term. He soon became renowned at district headquarters for working 60- or 70-hour weeks and for sometimes becoming involved in administrative minutiae.
After winning a full term in 1981, Bartman settled in to become one of the more effective behind-the-scenes players on the board. He worked quietly to attract teachers for "hard-to-staff" schools in East and South Los Angeles, and was involved in streamlining the bus transportation system used in the voluntary desegregation program.
Bartman originally opposed closing schools because of declining enrollments, a phenomenon that has hit the West Valley more than any other section of the city. However, in the last two years, he has voted with the board majority to close several schools, saying he was convinced the closures were in the district's best financial interests.
The votes on school closures have cost Bartman some support in the West Valley. Before the announcement that he would not run, two potential rivals surfaced. They are David Armor, a former Rand policy analyst who ran a losing congressional campaign against Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Los Angeles) in 1982, and Carrie Vacar, a former schoolteacher and chairman of VOICE (Valley Organization for Improved Childhood Education).