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Laura Pearson: Clearing the air about my campaign

Posted: October 26, 2009 6:23 p.m.
Updated: October 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Let me introduce myself, what I stand for and why I am running again for a seat on the Castaic Union School District Board of Trustees.

I was born and raised in the Santa Clarita Valley. I have two children and a supportive and loving husband.

I have lived in Castaic for 15 years and my children have gone through the Castaic schools for the past 11 years. I have dedicated many hours to our schools in the past 11 years by working in the classrooms, being room mom on numerous occasions and holding executive board positions on both the Castaic Elementary PTA and Castaic Middle School PTSA.

Those positions include special events coordinator, historian, holiday shoppe coordinator and PTA/PTSA president at both sites for a total of five years.

I served on the Castaic Elementary Site Council, and was team mom on many occasions as my children played baseball and basketball in the Castaic area. I received the Volunteer of the Year award from the Castaic Chamber in 2004. In 2005, I was elected to the Castaic Union School Board and have served faithfully for the past four years.

I have dedicated the past 11 years to my children and all of the children in the Castaic community. I have developed bonds, friendships and relationships in Castaic. For that reason I have decided to run again for the Castaic Union School District board. My heart and soul is in this community and I would like to be awarded the honor of serving on the school board for an additional four-year term.

John Zaring, a fellow candidate, has said I publicly did not endorse the Hart SA Bond that was on the ballot last fall.
Yes, he is right: I did not endorse the bond and would like to give you a full explanation of why that happened.

In July 2008, Gloria Mercado-Fortine, president of the William S. Hart Union High School District board, contacted me and asked that I sit on the SA Committee and find four or five residents to join me on the committee.

Zaring, along with others, was one of the individuals I suggested for the committee because of his passion for a high school in our community.

I attended the first couple of meetings to listen to what they had to say and was asked to go back and speak to the taxpayers of Castaic to see how they would feel about a bond. After discussing the issue with other Castaic board members, parents, town council members and residents, I went to the next meeting to share concerns.

It surprises me Zaring has publicly challenged me on this issue and asked for an explanation, since he sat next to me when I asked the members of the SA Committee, which included two Hart district board members and their superintendent to meet some of the requests of Castaic residents before I would feel right endorsing the bond.

The three things I asked for were:

n Purchase a piece of property for a high school before the election in November. Property has always been the issue and the people with whom I spoke regarding this issue felt without a site, we would not have a high school.

n Re-write the words of the bond to be more explicit. The bond stated: "(A) high school would be built for the benefit of the Castaic students."

I asked the wording be changed to a "high school in Castaic for the benefit of the Castaic students."

n I asked the Hart district board to commit to one high school for our children to attend until we had a high school in Castaic.

In other words, stop sending different eighth-grade classes to different schools. I explained this was hard on our community, our neighborhoods and our children.

I was told none of the requests were a possibility, at which time I announced I could not endorse the SA Bond, not because I did not want a high school in Castaic or because I wanted to hurt the Castaic children but because the last bond passed in Santa Clarita was supposed to build us a high school and it has never happened.

I felt that the Hart district board needed to commit to our community and do something to show us it was seriously going to move forward with an effort to build a high school in a short amount of time.

Almost a year since the SA election, the Hart district board is no closer to building a high school for Castaic than it was before the bond passed.

Yes, I do hold a slight grudge, as do others in the community that has been affected by the Hart district's decisions to move our kids around and not build us a high school.

I love this community and want nothing more for our children than an exceptional standard of education. However, serving on this board has nothing to do with a high school in Castaic. We are not a unified district and we have no jurisdiction over the high school.

A high school Castaic is the Hart district's responsibility. In Castaic, it is a board's decision to decide on what should be done for the children in our schools, not any one individual person.

For the past four years we have worked hard as a team to make sure state budget cuts have been held as far away from the classrooms as possible and be able to maintain our high standard of education. This is currently what is important to me and our community. This year, our district became an 800 district; this is what is important. If elected again, I promise to work with the Castaic district board and our administrators, teachers and staff to serve our community and our children just like I have done for the past 11 years.

Mr. Zaring, I urge you and your friends to run your campaign based on what you have done for our schools and community since you moved to Castaic. The only thing I have seen in print is your effort on the SA bond for the Hart district, which you will have no jurisdiction with the Castaic board, and frankly we are no closer this year than last. Is this something on which to run your campaign?

I have enjoyed working for the benefit of the Castaic children and I hope that I am given the chance to do it again for another four years. I hope this letter clears up any misconceptions.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Laura Pearson is a Castaic resident. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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