The Pleasanton Weekly today endorsed incumbents Valerie Arkin and Jamie Hintzke for re-election to the school board in the Nov. 8 election and former school board member Kathleen Ruegsegger for election again.
In an editorial in its Oct. 21 edition, the Weekly states that although each of the four candidates in this year's election for the Pleasanton school board is well qualified to serve, it supports Arkin, Hintzke and Ruegsegger.
The newspaper's editorial states that while the fourth candidate for the three open seats on the school board -- former Hart Middle School principal Steve Maher -- "is without doubt most knowledgeable about Pleasanton schools, curriculum and the district's management team," its concern is that one of his daughters is an elementary school principal in the district and two others are teachers at local elementary schools and, therefore, also members of the teachers' union. .
"This could pose possible conflicts of interest during budget, school administrative and union negotiations," the Weekly's editorial states. "Even if he recused himself from participating in discussing any of these issues, that would leave the board with just four decision-making members, and possibly lacking a majority vote on controversial matters."
"Of those we support, Arkin and Hintzke have served on the board for the last eight years, generally voting together to make decisions that benefit our schools," the editorial adds. "Their guidance and decisions on the board have ensured that Pleasanton students have the programs that address their academic needs, as well as addressing their extracurricular needs."
The editorial further states: "During their tenure, an increasing number of students have graduated with the skills they need to succeed in a global economy, better prepared to be socially responsible citizens. Both board members have been accessible and approachable, making their personal telephone numbers and email addresses available to the public and willingly meeting with parents on any concerns they have with school and district policies."
The editorial continues:
Valerie Arkin has handled hundreds of school budget decisions during her two terms of office. Fiscal responsibility with taxpayer dollars, including open accountability, is something she feels strongly about. Communication and transparency are also very important.
Reading interventions also have been among her priorities, with data showing that kids who read proficiently at an early age are more likely to succeed academically in later years. "Future academic success depends on it," she said. "That is why I will continue to advocate for reading interventions, instructional coaches and other programs to address this need."
Arkin holds a bachelor's degree in health science from Cal State Northridge and a master's degree in business administration from California Lutheran University. She was chosen by fellow board members to serve as board president in 2011 and 2015. She serves on the Special Education Local Plan Area board and the city of Pleasanton Liaison Committee, and she is a delegate for the California School Board Association. She and her husband Brian have three children including Chris, who works in the tech industry; Angela, a college senior; and Nick, a junior at Amador Valley High School.
Jamie Hintzke also has made greater district transparency, tight financial control and a higher level of executive staff accountability as her priorities. As Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said in endorsing her candidacy for re-election, "Jamie Hintzke walks the walk when it comes to improving education and accountability in Pleasanton." Hintzke's eight years on the board show a strong record of involvement, including insisting on a new district audit firm selection process and putting a public audit committee in place.
Hintzke brings experience to the board that others do not, including attending third grade through her senior year in high school in Pleasanton, herself, and having two children go through the system.
She currently is the school board president, serves on the Pleasanton Economic Vitality Committee and has just been elected for a second term as a delegate to the California School Board Association's delegate assembly. From 2009-12, she served on the Alameda County School Boards Association and has served as a trustee on the Tri-Valley Regional Occupation Program board for two years.
Hintzke is employed by Alameda County Health Care Services Agency as a community relations coordinator. She also works as the program manager for the Alameda County Emergency Medical Services CPR program for seventh-graders.
Kathleen Ruegsegger has 16 years of experience as an administrative assistant in both the Pleasanton and Palo Alto school districts and served from 1990-93 as a Pleasanton school board member. She worked with five superintendents and two dozen board members, all who shared a variety of perspectives.
She wants Pleasanton schools to increase their connection with the community's ambitions for its children. She supports transparency and more collaboration between the city and school district with shared projects that will maximize tax dollars while greatly benefiting both agencies.
She calls this a "pivotal time" to serve as a school board member, with a new superintendent in place. Because of her experience, she's well-prepared to serve on the board again. With her three adult children, who attended Pleasanton schools, now on their own, Ruegsegger has even more time now to dedicate to the school board position.
Recognizing that the Pleasanton district has had some difficulties with communication and transparency over the past dozen years or so, her skills will help the board ensure better public communications that will reach out more broadly in the community and to do it more timely.