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Lawyer, Moorhead Aide Seek School Board Seats

January 10, 1991|LORI GRANGE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Glendale attorney and a U. S. congressman's aide have decided to challenge two incumbents for their seats on the Glendale Board of Education, offering the first competition in school district elections in six years.

Robert C. Burlison Jr., 37, who practices property and personal injury law, and Peter Musurlian, 29, a field representative for Rep. Carlos Moorhead (R-Glendale), said this week that they want to inject "fresh ideas and fresh blood" into the panel.

Sharon Beauchamp, the board's president, is vying for a fourth four-year term in the April 2 election. Blanch Greenwood, elected in 1975, is seeking a fifth term. Both ran unopposed in 1987, and the 1989 board election was canceled because no one challenged the three incumbents who sought new terms, they said.

Meanwhile, a candidate who ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in 1989 has joined this year's race for two open council seats, and another appears poised to do so.

Dick Matthews, a former Carnation Co. vice president who placed fourth in the last election among 13 candidates, kicked off his campaign this week.

Shirley Griffin, president of a citywide homeowners group called Glendale Residents to Improve Our Neighborhoods (GRIN), placed fifth in 1989 and is expected to announce her candidacy at a news conference Friday.

Griffin's candidacy would bring to eight the number of people running for the council.

Mayor Larry Zarian is seeking his third term, while Councilman Jerold Milner has decided not to run for reelection.

The Board of Education oversees a school district of 27 schools, more than 25,000 students and an annual budget of about $100 million. It voted last year to institute year-round education at six elementary schools in July, with two more schools scheduled to follow in July, 1992.

All four board candidates agreed that, aside from the start-up of year-round classes, the most pressing issues the board may face in the next several years include shortfalls in state education funding, lack of involvement by parents, a shortage of bilingual teachers, and gang and drug problems among students.

In addition, salary negotiations with teachers are expected to begin in the next few months. The teachers' contract expires in June.

Burlison, who is president-elect of the Glendale Teen Center, and Musurlian, a former journalist, both said the board needs to be reinvigorated by new members who will not merely rubber-stamp the ideas of Supt. Robert Sanchis or other district administrators.

"I think they've been doing a good job . . . but when you're involved with the schools that long, you become part of the bureaucracy, part of the administration almost," Musurlian said. "Perhaps they should allow some new ideas and fresh perspectives to be interjected into the schools."

Both Musurlian and Burlison are leaders of a committee called Glendale Schools 2000, formed last year to draft a strategic plan for the district. Both said they favor increased parent and community involvement in the schools, and would sponsor a monthly public forum and encourage private funding for school programs.

"I don't know that Glendale would be horribly off if the constituency left the board the way it is," Burlison said. "The question is, would it get better? The board needs to develop a more active relationship with the city . . . and some different ideas. I don't think you necessarily get that from people who have been on the board for 16-plus years."

Burlison, who graduated from Hoover High School, has three children and is a PTA member at Balboa Elementary School, one of the six scheduled to go year-round this year.

He served on a district task force that endorsed year-round classes as a way to reduce school crowding and supported the board's decision to initiate year-round education.

Musurlian, who does not have children, said he wants to address the problem of gangs in the schools and a need for more bilingual teachers. He said his experience as a field representative for Moorhead makes him more knowledgeable about state education legislation and funding, and his age would make him more appealing to Glendale's students.

Musurlian attended public schools in Torrance and worked as a television reporter, anchorman and producer in Montana, Texas and Washington, D.C. He said he moved to Glendale two years ago to work for Moorhead.

"I'm not going to make any promises that we're going to get all the funding we need because of my political contacts, but I think I certainly would have a better insight because I work in the political world," Musurlian said. "And it wouldn't hurt for the students to have someone they can relate to, who was in high school only 11, 12 years ago."

Beauchamp, 50, and Greenwood, who declined to give her age, defended their tenure on the board. They said the decision to begin year-round education, the formation last year of Glendale Schools 2000 and their efforts to curb crowding in schools showed their ability to "change with the times."

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