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Local Issues, Congressional Races Enter the Countdown : 3 Run Polite Campaign for Alhambra School Board

October 23, 1986|LILY ENG | Times Staff Writer

There has been no fancy sloganeering and no name-calling in the campaign for two seats on the school board that runs the Alhambra City and High School Districts. The three candidates prefer to talk about themselves rather than each other.

Joseph A. Castro, who has never run for public office before, has focused on his educational background.

Dora S. Padilla, a board member since 1978, has emphasized the need for more basic education in reading, writing and math.

And Charles C. Scanlon, a board member since 1974, has stressed his lengthy tenure on the board and his experience as a former teacher and school administrator.

At stake are two $400-a-month four-year school board terms.

School Site an Issue

The most pressing issue facing the five-member school board--which governs Alhambra elementary schools and the Alhambra High School District, which includes parts of Monterey Park, Rosemead and San Gabriel--is the selection of a site for a new high school.

The three existing high schools, Alhambra, San Gabriel and Mark Keppel, were built to accommodate 7,000 students, but have a combined enrollment of about 10,000.

Although Castro has refused to criticize his opponents directly, he has chastised the board as a whole for delaying a decision on the site.

The board has said it is delaying the site selection process until its meeting on Nov. 18, two weeks after the Nov. 4 election, so that state officials can evaluate two newly proposed sites in Monterey Park.

However, Castro said the board is stalling.

'Afraid of Election'

"The board is afraid of the election, so they are using the stall tactic," Castro said. "That's not fair for the community."

Scanlon and Padilla said the board is not responsible for the delay because state approval and studies of each potential site are needed before the board can carry on.

The three candidates have offered different interpretations of results of the California Assessment Program test scores covering reading, writing skills and math.

Castro contends that the scores for the district are lower than state averages and that "I want to see ourselves in the top 10%."

But Scanlon and Padilla contend that the district's scores are acceptable and that the school system is doing a good job.

Emphasis on Quality

Castro, an executive with Security Pacific Bank and a 1976 graduate of California State University, Northridge, said he is a "recent product of the educational field" and he wants the district to emphasize quality education.

"There are 'lemon laws' to protect consumers against bad cars but not for bad education," Castro said. "We should hold the school board accountable for good or bad education."

Castro, a 31-year-old Alhambra resident, wants the board to set goals, such as higher test scores, for the schools to follow.

Castro is a member of the board of the San Gabriel Valley region of United Way, a volunteer coordinator for the Special Olympics, a counselor at the Foundation for the Junior Blind and director of his bank's volunteer programs.

Campaigning on Experience

Scanlon, a 77-year-old former teacher and administrator in the district, is seeking his fourth term on the school board. Proud of his 52 years in Alhambra schools, Scanlon's campaign slogan is, "There is no substitute for experience."

"Experience is what counts the most," Scanlon said. "I call on my background to deal with every problem. I'm not one to say 'yes' or 'no' as soon as I hear something."

Scanlon, a San Gabriel resident, has been a teacher, principal, business manager and an assistant superintendent for business in the Alhambra schools.

Scanlon scoffs at the idea that his age might be an issue in the election. "My doctor told me I don't look old and I don't act old," Scanlon said. "He told me as long as I have all my marbles, I'm not old. "

Seeking Uniformity

Padilla, a two-term term board member and a homemaker, said she first ran for the Alhambra board in 1978 when she was "mad" after seeing students "get short-changed" because the schools did not have the same curriculum.

"Now there's uniformity in the district in all the curriculum requirements," Padilla said. "Before that, one school would teach metrics and another would not."

Padilla, 52, wants the district to upgrade elementary and high school requirements by stressing basic education and increasing the number of credits required for graduation.

Padilla said she frequently attends Parent-Teacher Assn. meetings and conferences and often tells the board what she has learned.

Unpaid Dues

Scanlon and Padilla say Castro has not paid his dues in the district.

"He (Castro) hasn't learned to do his homework in the district," Padilla said. "I don't see any indication that he knows what the district is about."

But Castro disagrees.

"If you hire a person for a job, you don't look at who's been around longest," Castro said. "You look at the person with the best experience in the field."

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