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Whittier Union High School District

Fourteen Southeast-area school systems and three community college districts will have board elections Nov. 2. This is one in a series examining election issues in some of the districts.

September 23, 1993

Enrollment: 9,523

Areas served: All of Whittier and parts of Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk

On the ballot: Five candidates, including three incumbents and two challengers, for three seats

INCUMBENTS

Eve Burnett

Board member since 1980

Age: Declined to say

Occupation: Housewife and volunteer

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: She said she takes pride in the board's efforts to improve job-training programs. In particular, she praised a district program that allows students to take groups of classes in a career area such as health, business, graphic arts or computer science, under the coordinated supervision of a team of teachers. "We're focusing on students having workable skills. We've begun to realize you can't teach children the way we used to." She supports charging an annual fee to property owners for the purpose of maintaining district-owned public facilities such as tennis courts and stadiums. The recreation fee is "a very small amount of money to do some things we haven't done for 40 years." She said she would support merging the high school district with its five feeder elementary districts.

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Octavio V. Chavez

Board member since 1989

Age: 54

Occupation: Maintenance manager, U.S. Postal Service

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: As a board member, he said, he lobbied the state for more money, encouraged the district to apply for grants and solicited local business people to donate money or help repair buildings. "You know you try to get creative and to get dollars to stretch as far as you can." He supports charging an annual fee to property owners to maintain district-owned public facilities such as tennis courts and stadiums. "Especially in our area, the school grounds, the facilities are very much a part of the community, the whole community--the kids, adults, everyone I know uses them." He said he favors merging the high school district with its feeder elementary districts. A merger would "streamline the curriculum" and allow "uniform scheduling." "It's tough when you don't have uniformity."

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John C. Rios

Board member since 1985

Age: 54

Occupation: Auditor, U.S. Department of Defense

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: "In spite of the fact we don't have more money, we've been very successful in what we've achieved with the students." He said he has taken no position on the issue of merging the high school district with its feeder elementary districts. Because "it's up to the community to decide," he favors a voter referendum on the issue. He supports charging an annual fee to property owners to maintain district-owned public recreational facilities. "Essentially, we need to improve our facilities, provide more programs for the kids and continue to reduce the dropout rate." He said he is proud of the board's decision to improve vocational programs by allowing students to take a series of job-training classes in areas such as health or graphic arts under the coordinated supervision of a team of teachers.

CHALLENGERS

Clair E. Buchholz

Age: 62

Occupation: Retired manufacturing consultant

Residence: Whittier

Remarks: He said his background in organizing factories would help him analyze expenditures to make the schools as efficient as possible. Local school systems are spending too much money without having better educated students to show for it, he said. He supports merging the high school district with its feeder elementary districts, saying it would save money in salaries and operating expenses. "I'm running for a very special reason, to unify the districts." He said he opposes the district's decision to charge an annual fee to property owners to maintain district-owned public recreational facilities. The fee would be unnecessary if the six Whittier-area school systems merged, he said.

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Adeline Rocha

Age: 58

Occupation: Teacher's assistant, Little Lake City School District

Residence: Santa Fe Springs

Remarks: She said she opposes the district's decision to charge an annual fee to property owners to maintain district-owned public recreational facilities. Eliminating that fee is "my main issue." As a member of the school board for the Los Nietos School District for 12 years, she said, she lobbied state legislators to pay more for programs that districts are required to provide, such as classes for disabled students and those who speak limited English. While a board member, "I attended every conference and workshop you can think of and learned every law that deals with education." In the Los Nietos district, she said, she played a major role in soliciting donations from the Santa Fe Springs City Council to build new play areas for kindergartners and for an annual ceremony to honor district teachers.

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