ARCADIA — William Spuck and Mary E. Dougherty won seats on the Arcadia Unified School District's board of trustees Tuesday after a campaign in which the five candidates made their qualifications the only issue.
Spuck and Dougherty polled 2,489 and 1,983 votes, respectively. They will assume seats vacated by Carol D. Papay, who has served eight years on the board, and Donald E. Fickas, a 13-year trustee, when they decided not to seek reelection.
Candidates Marilyn Miller Perkins, an El Monte elementary school teacher, ran third with 1,704 votes, followed by stockbroker Robert C. Harris with 1,232 votes and nonprofit organization administrator David R. Strauss with 431.
Spuck said he was elected because voters responded to his qualifications, which include his 25-year tenure as a Jet Propulsion Laboratory managing engineer and appointment as a trustee of the Fuller Evangelistic Assn., a Pasadena-based nonprofit organization that acts as a consulting firm for churches nationwide.
The 47-year-old candidate said one of the first items he will put on his agenda after he is sworn in in July will be to improve communication between parents and teachers in the 7,280-student district. He said those relations were strained by hotly contested collective bargaining talks last year.
Spuck said he will also try to find ways to lessen the load on overworked Arcadia High School counselors, who he said are assigned as many as 450 students per semester, as a way of encouraging more creative solutions to student problems.
Dougherty, 49, a housewife, said her qualifications for the board include 12 years of active PTA participation in Arcadia schools.
Perkins said that being a teacher may have contributed to her loss. She said some voters, especially those in the northern, more affluent neighborhoods, may have believed that a teacher would be too sympathetic to other teachers during contract negotiations.
Robert E. Kladifko, an administrator with the Los Angeles Unified School District, is the only professional educator on the board, a district spokesman said.
Both Spuck and Dougherty said they are committed to improving reading, writing and communications skills for all students, and they supported the board's recent decision to equip chaperones at next month's high school prom with police-style Breathalyzer devices to detect violations by students of the district's ban on alchoholic beverages.
Spuck and Dougherty said they will also push for rapid integration of the district's growing Asian student population by attempting to improve English fluency among limited-English-speaking students and their parents.
Dougherty said that as many as 27 languages are spoken by Asian students in the district. She said that these students make up 19% of the student population, compared to about 4% five years ago.
Despite a lack of campaign issues, voter turnout was slightly higher than last year. District officials said that 4,287 voters cast ballots Tuesday, 14.3% of the district's 30,070 registered voters. Voter turnout two years ago was 13.6%, officials said.
The school district covers the City of Arcadia and has six elementary schools, three junior high schools, one high school and one continuation high school.