Two Duarte school board members are fighting reelection challenges from newcomers who question how effectively the board communicates with the public.
In nearby Monrovia, teacher pay and communication are at issue in a school board race in which no incumbents are seeking reelection.
Like voters in other San Gabriel Valley cities, residents in Duarte and Monrovia will select school board members on Nov. 5.
In Duarte, where communication between the school board and the public is the major issue, four candidates are competing for two four-year terms.
- James M. Bowers, 55, is a nine-year Duarte resident who has been involved in education for 28 years.
"I am for deriving public opinion and representing that opinion," he said. "I am not predisposed to eliminate or create policies."
Bowers, a professor who teaches computer-aided drafting and design at Pasadena City College, is the father of two. He taught previously at John Muir High School in Pasadena.
- Jim Kirchner, 40, a computer services manager for Kaiser Hospital, said he would like to improve communications and the curriculum.
"Business people should come into the classroom and educate kids in what is necessary to enter the business world," Kirchner said. In addition, he said that students should have more vocational training and be able to take more elective courses.
Kirchner has lived in Duarte for three years and has two children.
- Incumbent Sylvia L. Van Doren, who has served six years on the Duarte school board, said she is better qualified for the position than her opponents.
"The first two years on the board you're learning about the language, the laws and policies," Van Doren said. "The Duarte school system is improving and I don't want to see the progress slowed down while new members are going through the learning process."
A mother of three, Van Doren is an insurance claims manager. The 15-year Duarte resident said her major goal is to improve students' communications skills, such as "reading, writing and hearing."
- Incumbent Dennis Verhagen, 33, is president of the board on which he has served four years. He said he hopes to complete programs that he and the board have begun, such as upgrading the curriculum and hiring strong administrators.
Verhagen believes that communication among the board, the staff and parents "is better now than it has been in the past."
Verhagen, who has lived in Duarte for four years, is employed by Pacific Bell as a special services supervisor. He has one daughter.
Candidate Randy B. Cammans dropped out of the race in September and endorsed Bowers and Kirchner.
In Monrovia, four candidates are vying for the two open positions on the five-member school board. A fifth candidate, Jim Van De Wetering, withdrew from the race.
Two incumbents are not seeking reelection. Linda Proctor, a board member for seven years, said she "needs a rest," and Mimi Mency, a board member for 12 years, said her "job responsibilities and living conditions have changed and I can't devote the time necessary for being a board member."
The candidates are running for four-year terms.
- Christine Goudy, 44, a bookkeeper and secretary, said she believes that teacher salaries are too low and the district is losing teachers to other school systems.
Goudy, a mother of two who has lived in Monrovia for six years, said she would seek to improve communication between staff and parents.
"I think the community wants someone who will listen to what they say and actively find out what the community is thinking," Goudy said.
- C. David Ham, 40, a lifelong Monrovia resident, cited the district's low state test scores as the reason he is running for the board.
"We need more of the three Rs," Ham said. "But I don't want to eliminate extracurricular activities."
Ham is a supervisor at the California Corrections Department and has two sons.
- Charles R. Hauk, 58, a former teacher who works as a shipments scheduler, said he will address the problem of poor communications between the teachers and the school board.
"Contracts are allowed to expire and teachers must work from last year's agreements," Hauk said. "There needs to be a better and more timely communication at the start of the year."
Hauk, a 28-year Monrovia resident and a father of nine, taught history, math and English at Clifton Middle School for 16 years and served on the Monrovia school board from 1970 to 1975.
- Frederick Purdy, 53, a history teacher at Wilson Junior High School since 1957 and a professor of economics and marketing at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, is concerned about declining test scores and what he called a "teacher shortage crisis" in Monrovia.
"Now we're not as sensitive as we should be to teachers' needs," Purdy said. There is a need to review how the administration deals with teachers, he added. Purdy has lived in Monrovia for 23 years and has two children.