South Pasadena’s Unified School District’s Board of Education has three seats coming open this November, with two incumbents already saying they will be running again.

The third incumbent, Elisabeth Eilers, has decided not to seek re-election.
“I am not running again,” Eilers said late last week. “I will be completing my 13th year on the Board of Education. It has been one of the most challenging and most fulfilling endeavors of my life. I know of nothing as vital as educating our youth well.  I first ran when the district was struggling with a lack of solid leadership at the top and serious budget cuts. I am leaving a healthy and thriving district thanks to our outstanding superintendent and his cabinet, my fellow board members, our dedicated SPUSD staff and an amazingly supportive community.”

With Eilers decision to not seek re-election, that leaves an opening for a newcomer to jump into the fray. Word has it that Dr. Ruby Kahlra is going to run. Kahlra has been a PTA president and active in the South Pasadena Educational Foundation as well as a avid supporter of So Pas schools.

Meanwhile, Julie Giulione and Michele Kipke have indicated that they are going to seek re-election to the terms that last four years. Kipke is in Europe presented a scientific paper so she won’t be able to file until her return to this country.

“It’s hard to believe but I have served on the South Pasadena Unified School District’s (SPUSD) Governing Board for nearly 10 years,” Kipke said in an email sent from Europe. “It has been an extraordinary honor to serve our community, families and students, and I have learned so much and benefitted in so many ways. I am also deeply proud of what we have accomplished during the past 10 years and am excited about future plans to further expand our academic programs as we also upgrade our school facilities. It is for these reason that I have decided to run for re-election this coming November.”

The district is facing significant challenges over the next few years. As always, the ever-changing state budget alters the district budget seemingly on a weekly basis. The declining enrollment also is a challenge that must be dealt with head-on. This year alone the district was forced to lay-off two teachers, only to be able to reinstate them later when the enrollment figures and the budget forecast improved. The looming pension requirements are also draining district resources. The district finally came out from under deficit spending that creates financial stability, they passed a $98 million bond measure for facilities that needs to be monitored as the construction moves forward.

Doing more with less, is the mantra of the board. In fact, Board President Jon Primuth along with all the board members has repeatedly said SPUCD is one the best School District’s in the state but has much less to work with when compared with the resources available to those same districts.

“We do so much more with so much less, it’s amazing,” Primuth has often said.

And that’s exactly why Julie Winkle Giulione is running again.

“I’ve been honored to serve as a member of the SPUSD school board over the past five years,” Giulione said. “It’s been an exciting and rewarding time during which we have: successfully implemented common core standards; eliminated deficit spending to promote greater financial stability; narrowed key achievement gaps; passed a $98M facilities bond measure (and quickly initiated several building and improvement projects); expanded our elementary dual language immersion and other programs; and actively engaged our parents and community through local control and accountability planning. And, while I’m proud of the work we’ve done, there continues to be more opportunities and challenges ahead. I’d be delighted and honored to put my passion for our schools and everything I’ve learned as a first term school board member to work for our students during a second term.”

The filing period is from July 16 to August 10, unless an incumbent is not running then it extends five days. The School Board candidates are required to file their intent to seek office with the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office in Norwalk.

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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