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Reorganization Plays Role in Schools Voting

March 07, 1985|VICTOR VALLE | Times Staff Writer

Two San Gabriel Valley school board elections--in Charter Oak and in Pasadena--were in part decided this week on a single issue--districtwide reorganization of enrollment.

Barry Monroe scored what most of his opponents called an upset when he was elected Tuesday to the Charter Oak Unified School District's board of trustees in a race where the issue of school closures was been the focus of heated community debate.

Monroe, an engineering consultant and Glendora resident who campaigned for postponement of an already approved plan that includes merging the district's two high schools onto one campus, received 421 votes, 35 more than Joseph Probst. Probst, with 386 votes, was considered by opponents as the favorite to win the unexpired term left vacant after Trustee Maurice R. Flora resigned from the Covina-Glendora area district last year.

Monroe said his victory raises the possibility of a deadlocked board that will be unable to implement the school merger scheduled for this fall because the tie-breaking vote on the five-member board was lost when Trustee Roscoe J. Vaniman died in January. Vaniman's seat will be filled in a special election slated for November.

But school board President Ann Hall said the district's reorganization plans, which are intended to alleviate problems caused by decreasing enrollment, are too far along to be affected by Monroe's victory.

Two Seats Open

In the Pasadena Unified School District, university professor James McBath and community volunteer Anne Pursel handily won seats left open when Henry Myers and Marjorie Wyatt did not seek reelection.

Both McBath, who won Office 3 with 8,549 votes, more than 63% of the votes cast, and Pursel, who won Office 5 with 8,330 votes, more than 61%, have pledged to support a district reorganization plan that will, among other things, replace the two junior high schools with three middle schools.

Middle schools combine grades 6 through 8, rather than grades 7 and 8 as in most junior highs. Woodrow Wilson and Charles W. Eliot elementary schools and Don Benito Fundamental School will be transformed into middle schools this fall.

McBath, 58, said the middle school concept will help students graduating from the district's elementary schools make a smoother transition into high school and better accommodate an anticipated increase in the elementary-age population. He said district researchers project that enrollment in kindergarten through grade 5 will increase from the present 10,036 to 11,322 by 1989, a increase of more than 12%.

Pursel said she also will work to reduce class sizes and mitigate the potential difficulties posed to students by state-mandated graduation requirements.

25% Voter Turnout

Pursel's opponents for Office 5 were Emmell Beech, an educator and Pasadena resident who received 971 votes, and Marie River, an Altadena educator and a clinical psychologist, who got 4,245 votes. McBath's opponents in Office 3 were Arlene Moncrief, an Altadena accountant who received 1,132 votes, and Paul Tooby, a Pasadena businessman who got 857 votes. Pasadena's school board races attracted a 25% voter turnout, city officials said.

Judging by Monroe's election to the board, however, district reorganization will continue to be a controversial issue with teachers, parents and students in the Charter Oak Unified School District.

Already, parents angered by the reorganization plan because they oppose closure of neighborhood schools and cross-town bus trips, have launched a recall petition drive against one trustee, Ralph E. Bristol, and are preparing to do the same against remaining trustees, Monroe said.

Monroe, who said he will try to patch differences on the board, said he will nevertheless act to delay implementation of the plan the first chance he gets.

The 43-year-old Glendora resident said he does not oppose reorganization. Instead, he claims that the district acted prematurely to devise and implement its plan.

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