A retired Turlock High teacher and an involved parent will join the Turlock Unified School District board before year’s end. Trustees appointed both unanimously at a special board meeting Tuesday.
Lori Carlson, who has children at Walnut Elementary and Turlock Junior High, will fill Deborah Martin’s seat, serving Area 2. Martin resigned Sept. 2 to move to Oregon. Carlson’s appointment becomes final in 30 days unless a petition for special election is filed.
Anthony Silva, a 38-year teacher who retired in 2008, will take the Area 7 seat in December. No one filed to run in November’s election for the seat.
Each candidate was asked at Tuesday’s meeting to prioritize needs of the district and lay out skills he or she brought to the board to help meet those needs.
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“As individuals on a board, we know we have no authority. Zero authority. But if we can convince a majority to join us, we have a lot of authority,” board President Frank Lima said, starting off the discussion.
“I’d like to think my career as a teacher can bring something to the board,” Silva said. In areas where he lacks expertise, he pledged, “I’ll be a good listener and learn from the board.”
His outlook, he said, “is to keep it positive. Sometimes we lose track of that. We have to make it fun so they’ll want to learn, and I want to work as a team to make that happen.”
14,127 Number of Turlock Unified students in 2014-15
Silva was one of two applicants who filed for the Area 7 appointment; however, he was the only candidate considered by the full board after a subcommittee screening. The other applicant was Myra Lizett Aguilar. No explanation was given for the change and a call to the other applicant was not immediately returned.
Turlock is completing its switch to area elections this year.
There were two Area 2 applicants interviewed by the board Tuesday. Kevin Blount, a retired fire chief and dairyman who served 20 years on the Chatom School Board, was the other applicant. He listed his priorities as greater use of technology and student safety. Blount’s wife is a third-grade teacher at Crowell Elementary, which Lima noted had significant staff turmoil last year before its principal was reassigned.
Welcome. As a former teacher to a former teacher, I’m glad to see you on the board.
Eileen Hamilton, retiring TUSD board member, to newly appointed member Anthony Silva
Carlson holds a master’s degree in marital and family therapy and serves as spiritual director at Turlock Covenant Church, where her husband, Steve, is lead pastor.
She volunteers with the Turlock Gospel Mission and Bike Turlock. The Carlsons have another child at Keyes Charter School, and their eldest is a 2015 Turlock High grad now in college. Lori Carlson is an active classroom volunteer and Science Olympiad coach at Walnut and the junior high.
Carlson said her priority would be student safety, with a focus on ending bullying and ensuring safe travel to and around schools. Teacher training and technology are also areas she sees as high priorities, and she supports the district plans for both as laid out in its Strategic Plan.
“The role of the board is support and accountability,” she said.
Carlson was appointed with a 5-0 vote, with one vacancy and trustee Bob Weaver recused because of a business relationship with Blount.
$136,431,976 Anticipated general fund revenue for TUSD in 2015-16, vs. $127,455,689 for 2014-15
Both trustees will need to be sworn in before taking their seat. The board will hold its next meeting Tuesday. At its last meeting, it approved 4 percent raises and larger contributions to health care for all employee groups except teachers. It continues to negotiate with teachers, who have agreed to the 4 percent if it comes with binding arbitration for disputes, according to the district’s negotiations update posted on its website.
Other issues coming up in the next two years are a district push for a school bond, tentatively planned for November 2016. Trustees discussed hiring polling experts at an earlier meeting.
The district expects residential growth in the south of Turlock and wants to plan for another elementary school. District planners also said they hope to move the central cafeteria off Dutcher Middle School campus to allow putting a full sixth grade at the site to alleviate crowding in elementary schools.