Six candidates, including three incumbents, have stressed the need for better career counseling and stricter grading policies in their campaigns for three seats on the governing board of the Walnut Valley School District.
The district encompasses portions of Walnut, Diamond Bar, West Covina and the City of Industry and includes seven elementary schools, two intermediate schools and three high schools. There are 9,149 students attending district schools.
- Incumbent Ralph Kimball, 55, a dentist who has eight children, seven of them graduates of district schools, said he would like to improve the counseling program so that students can get annual reports on their progress toward goals.
"This way the students and their parents would know if they are on track or not," Kimball said.
Another concern of Kimball, who is completing his first four-year term, is the use of drugs on campus.
"I am aware of children in this district who have frittered away their potential because of drug problems," Kimball said. To combat the problem, he favors urine testing in specific cases. Kimball also advocates instructing parents, teachers and students on the dangers of drug use.
- Helen Hall, 37, a community volunteer, has two children attending district schools. Hall has twice been president of the Community Club, a parent group.
Hall said her community activism led her to become a candidate.
"Students in the district should have to maintain a C average to participate in sports programs and other extracurricular activities," she said.
At present, students can participate in those activities "as long as they are progressing satisfactorily toward graduation," district officials said.
Hall would also like to incorporate more science and math courses in school curriculum.
"Our society is gearing toward a more technical age," Hall said. "We need to prepare for this." One answer, Hall said, is to hire more math and science instructors.
- Jerry L. Prickett, 50, an electrical engineer and Naval Air Force Reserve commander, agreed that school curriculum needs to be strengthened in the scientific area.
"There has been much talk about there not being enough qualified teachers in the areas of physics and mathematics," Prickett said. "I have an idea that if we talked to private industry and professional engineering societies, we could find the personnel on a part-time basis."
Attends Elementary School
Prickett's daughter attends an elementary school in the district and his son will enter next fall.
He said he also is concerned about district funding. "The district needs to get more solidly plugged into the Legislature," he said. "Lobbying is the name of the game."
- Incumbent John A. Forbing, 42, who also is completing his first term, said he would like to continue on the board and strengthen his contacts in Sacramento, which in turn, would have an impact on district funds.
"With my background and understanding of the district and through my contacts with politicians, I feel I can be a real attribute," Forbing said.
Forbing's daughter attends an elementary school in the district, one factor which prompted him to seek reelection.
Forbing, an insurance agent, said he wants to ensure that the quality of the district's bilingual education program is maintained if cutbacks are required because of funding problems. District schools are equipped to work with 25 languages, he said.
- Incumbent T. James Hannan, 46, a 14-year board member, said he would like to install computer labs at elementary schools, hire more reading specialists and increase a program where school officials, called instructional deans, would provide support and evaluation of teachers. The district now has four deans at Diamond Bar High School.
Hannan, a sales manager at Supro Corp., which handles dry wall products, is also concerned about the Regional Occupational Program.
"We need to expand the program," he said. "This is important because not all of the kids here are going on to college."
"We need programs to keep the students and teachers in the schools," he added. If the proper programs and incentives are missing, students will drop out and teachers will take jobs in private industry, he said.
- Steven N. Almquist, 38, a commercial loan agent for Mitsui Manufacturer's Bank, said he decided to enter the race after he attended several meetings and noticed there was little community input.
"I attended some of the meetings and noticed I was the only one in the audience," Almquist said. "Somehow I believe I can get the parents more involved."
Almquist said he would like to strike a balance between providing money for programs and teacher salaries.
"You can have below-average working conditions, but if you have good employees, good people in the district, the kids will be taught right," he said.
Almquist, who has two children in district elementary schools, said he is not familiar with all of the district programs but, given a chance, would become an asset to the board.
"I'm running to be somebody new," he said. "I'll take a fresh look at everything, ask a lot of questions. I'll find out why we're doing what we're doing."