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Parents voice outrage at proposed Denair school board election change

POSTED March 8, 2013 9:21 p.m.

In an effort to save more money for a financially struggling Denair Unified School District, the district's board of trustees considered postponing board elections for one year. This idea was met with disdain by district parents who questioned current board members' competency and their motives for wanting to postpone elections.

In a special board meeting held Thursday night, Superintendent Edward Parraz recommended  rescheduling the election of governing board members by aligning district elections with statewide elections. This motion would extend board members' terms that were set to expire in 2013 to 2014, and board members whose terms would have expired in 2015 to 2016.

“The district was informed that there would be a cost saving if the district aligns elections with the statewide general elections,” said Parraz.

The change in election years was also expected to provide greater voter input.

But when the motion was presented at Thursday's meeting, district parents questioned the actual cost savings and voiced concerns about the trustees’ motives for supporting the change. 

“I can’t help but question the board members' motives for extending their terms,” said Monica Kindle Crabtree, a parent of a DUSD student.  “We need to get new board members because these board members have failed us.  They failed to manage the finances of the school district, supervise the superintendent and follow advice from the County Department of Education regarding the financial stability of the district.

“We need people who can think for themselves, do their research and make their educated decision,” she said.  “The board has failed us repeatedly.”

When asked how much money the district would save by moving elections a year, trustees could not provide an answer.

“I don’t know,” said Parraz.  “We don’t know how much money it will save us.”

Stanislaus County Clerk Recorder and Registrar of Voters Lee Lundrigan told the Journal that DUSD never contacted her office about changes in the election schedule or costs associated with it.

“The Denair Unified School District’s motive to change election schedules can hinder them instead of benefiting them financially,” said Lundrigan.  “This move could cost them more money and be more expensive for the district.  I don’t think it was smart of them.”

After hearing from three citizens who spoke out against changing the elections, the motion was put to the board and failed to pass by a 4 to 1 vote.

Board member Louisa Allen was the lone vote to change the district's elections.

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