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TUSD appoints two new trustees to fill vacant school board seats

The decision-making process to determine who would represent Trustee Area 2 came down to the gender of each candidate on Tuesday as the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees voted to appoint Lori Carlson to carry out the remainder of Deborah Martin’s term until 2017.

 “With the resignation of Deborah Martin and the term of Eileen Hamilton expiring in December of this year, the TUSD board would be losing two of the three current women trustees on the board,” said Board President Frank Lima. “Lori Carlson will help maintain a gender balance on the board. Ms. Carlson, as an active parent, also has extensive and familiarity with multiple elementary school sites in TUSD.

 “The appointment process for Area 2 was very difficult because both candidates were very qualified and both appeared very capable of serving our community and our schools,” continued Lima.

Carlson said that she was honored to be appointed for Trustee Area 2 and that she cannot wait to work with a great team of leaders in order to serve the community of Turlock. Among other things, she said that she looks forward to supporting the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

“I feel really supportive of the Strategic Plan that the District already has in place,” said Carlson. “It is so comprehensive from student safety to the professional development of teachers to making sure students have the technology they need to be prepared for the 21st century.”

Carlson said in September that she hopes to help the district advance more students toward grade-level performance and increase the percentage of students who are adequately prepared after graduation. She will also bring a unique perspective to the board that comes from having four children that attended six TUSD schools.

“I have had the privilege of volunteering in classrooms and chaperoning field trips for 27 elementary classroom teachers, 16 of which have been in Turlock schools,” said Carlson in September.

The board also took action on Tuesday to appoint retired teacher and rancher Anthony Silva to fill the vacancy in Trustee Area 7. Silva was one of just two candidates who filed for the seat just two days before the board had planned to consider extending the application deadline in September.

“I just really appreciate that so many people thought I can handle the job and I hope to live up to their expectations. I’m looking forward to it,” said Silva. “Hopefully my background will help make Turlock schools better and help me do my part.”

Silva served as a high school teacher for 38 years prior to his retirement in 2008. During his teaching career, he taught courses in agricultural education, government, economics and wildlife and forestry.

Silva’s past experience as a high school educator was the driving force that influenced the Board’s decision, since Board member and retired educator Eileen Hamilton’s at-large term expires in December. Once Hamilton’s term is up, Lima said that the Board will no longer benefit from having an educator's viewpoint.

“It does help to have a retired educator in our district who gives us some perspective as to how things have or haven’t been and how things are run,” said Lima. “Losing Mrs. Hamilton will be a loss to this Board and part of that loss will be covered by someone who has also had a long career in the district.”

Silva said that as the new trustee for Area 7 he would like to improve career education programs and provide a healthy environment for students to learn and grow during their school years.

“My main goal is hopefully to create a positive environment for students to want to learn and teachers to want to teach, not because they have to, but because they want to,” said Silva.

Carlson’s provisional appointment to Trustee Area 2 was effective immediately as of Tuesday. Silva will assume his seat to represent Trustee Area 7 on Dec. 4.