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    School board holds public interview to select a new member

    The Board of Education of the Albany Unified School District will interview seven applicants Tuesday and select one to fill a vacancy left by Jamie Calloway, former Board President who resigned for personal reasons last month.

    Seven people from the community have submitted their applications for the board position. All of them are longterm residents of Albany and most of them have actively been involved in school affairs.

    Each of the candidates has stated their motivation, qualification and vision for the job in their application forms.

    “Serving on the Board would give me the opportunity to serve the community I have lived for the past 27 years, and to serve the school district that educated my two sons, ” wrote candidate Rosalie Gonzales, a libarian who worked at the district for two decades and recently retired.

    “I’d like to help the Albany schools to weather the current economic climate and continue on its path of continuous improvement, ” wrote Paul Black, a parent who has done a variety of volunteer work at the schools.

    Two of the candidates, Alan Riffer and Michael Barnes, have served on the Board in the past and emphasized their experiences.

    “We were successful in making sound, collaborative decisions that resulted in protecting the District during years of budget reductions, and in strengthening the District when we were able to restore programs,” wrote Riffer, who served on the Board from 1989 to 1996.

    “My experience as (a) former Board Member would allow me to get up to speed quickly, and help resolve current issues, ” wrote Barnes, who was a Board member in the years of 2002 to 2006.

    Candidate Ellen Toomey, a graphic designer and a parent active in school issues, wrote about her contribution to the district by co-founding SchoolCARE, an influential fund raising group in the community that was established to deal with a budget crisis eight years ago.

    “The Albany schools funding crisis of 2001 taught me that challenge can be a time of rich and fertile benefit and growth, albeit not comfortable at the time, ” Toomey wrote. “Like many, I got a crash course then in schools and district workings and funding…”

    Candidate Nick Pilch wrote that he would focus on removing “an atmosphere of distrust between the District/Board and the teachers” if elected to the Board, besides tackling finanical woes.

    “My number one priority would be to attempt to heal the bad feelings and move towards more mutually agreeable solutions to the issues,” Pilch wrote in his application.

    Both Pilch and Toomey ran for the City Council of Albany last fall.

    Candidate Michael Adney, a local business owner, said he would work to effectively engage the community if elected to the Board, and to make decisions based on reason instead of emotions.

    (Click here to read the full text of the candidates’ statements in their application forms on page 56 – 69. )

    Each of the candidates will make a two-minute speech at a public meeting at Albany Community Center Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., April 14th. Then they will take turns to answer questions posed by four current members on the Board. After all the candidates end their oral presentation with a final statement, the Board will vote to select one person to become its new member.

    People from the public could make comments during the meeting, but they are not allowed ask questions directly to the candidates, according to  the procedures publicized by the district.

    Article by Linjun Fan.

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