All six candidates said the financial future of the system is the hottest issue in the campaign, and most proposed solutions that involve trying to persuade legislators that schools need more money. Many spoke of gathering support for a statewide voter initiative urging the Legislature to increase school funding.
Susan Keith said there is great potential for grass-roots support for such an initiative because many school districts are in similar situations.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 24, 1985 Home Edition San Gabriel Valley Part 9 Page 2 Column 5 Zones Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
In a story in the Oct. 20 San Gabriel Valley section, The Times incorrectly reported that six candidates in the Claremont Unified School District were running for two four-year terms. In fact, three four-year terms are at stake.
Cites Decline in Morale
Keith, who said it was the district's financial squeeze that led her to make her first election bid, said lack of funds has a direct bearing on the morale of faculty, administrators and students, which she and other candidates said is low.
"In the spring, the teachers chose to go on strike," Keith said, referring to a symbolic one-day strike during teacher negotiations in May. At the time, teachers said they took the action because of low pay and what they regarded as insensitivity to their needs on the part of the administration. "The teachers felt they haven't been communicated to," Keith said. "A lot of people don't feel they're getting a piece of the pie."
Clavon, another first-time candidate, mentioned the district's finances and morale as significant issues in the campaign. He said his educational background, which includes training in labor relations, prompted him to seek election.
"I'm upset with the lack of good labor relations within the school district here, which resulted in extremely low morale," Clavon said, referring to the teacher strike last May. "I felt my particular skills would go a long way toward relaxing hostility."
Relieve Teacher Burdens
Clavon said the school administration must relieve some of the burdens placed on teachers, such as larger classes, in order to improve morale.
Ed Keith, not related to Susan Keith, said careful planning is the key to solving the district's budget problems. "The needs of the district have to drive the budget, not the other way around," he said. He added that the board's decision to spend most of the district's reserves to maintain programs was an example of poor fiscal management. Keith, a data processing teacher at Citrus College, said his expertise in budget matters would help the board spend more carefully.
Cody, also a first-time challenger, said that either a voter initiative or intensive lobbying for special legislation is needed to increase school funding and, thereby, the quality of education in schools throughout the state.
Claims Lobbying Skill
Cody, who served on a school board in Illinois before moving to Claremont, said she has handled financial problems and is adept at lobbying.
Fay predicted further curriculum cutbacks and said there may be a need to use computers in teaching basics as class sizes increase.
The computerized classroom is exactly what Venderley would like to avoid. Venderley is running for the unexpired term of Helen Hutchison, who moved to Oregon last spring with two years remaining in her term. Marilee Scaff was appointed as a replacement but cannot under terms of her appointment run for election.
Calling himself the "parents' candidate," Venderley said he hopes to improve communication between parents and teachers.
Venderley opposes the district's cuts in the music program and what he perceives as a trend toward televised and computerized instruction. "School districts are sliding backward in curricular offerings because of a shift toward televised instruction," Venderley said.
'Communication Broken Down'
Petersen, Venderley's only opponent, agrees that some basic instructional programs, especially English and writing, seem to be lacking in Claremont. Petersen said that although a voter initiative is a good idea, she believes there are other solutions to the fiscal problems of school districts.
Petersen also would like to make faculty members and the administration more accountable to the public and to one another. "Communication is broken down in the district," she said. She suggested holding rotating public sessions with board members at district schools.