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School Board Race Gaining Momentum

First published in the Oct. 20 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

I really enjoy reading the Letters to the Editor.
When a person recommends voting for someone, be it City Council or the school board, I would appreciate it if they would write about where that person stands on issues. It is not sufficient to say that a candidate has proven leadership, or that he is always willing to serve.
Those descriptions fit many people who have opposing views. There are a lot of “hot” issues now regarding school curriculum. It would help the community better decide who is the best fit for our own values if the letters to the editor included this person’s views on these current issues.

Ginger Caldwell
La Cañada Flintridge

I am writing this letter in support of Debbie Barsom for LCUSD School Board.
I am the father of three children, two of whom went through our La Cañada Schools. More proudly, I now have eight grandchildren who are attending or will in the near future.
I know Debbie well as a most capable and talented attorney. More important is that she is running for the board as a parent herself. She understands the needs of our schools and the need to take serious account of the parents’ and the entire community’s input on important decisions.
She is compassionate, yet completely level-headed when it comes to dealing with social issues. She will not allow political bias or ideology to affect what she deems best for our children.
Her most important goal is to maintain and grow what has been historically one of the best school systems in California, and indeed the nation. She is a unifier for our community not a divider. Simply put, she is what we need on the LCUSD School Board, and she has my enthusiastic support.

George Ajalat
La Cañada Flintridge

Our kids were 2 and 5 years old when we moved to La Cañada for its warm community and top public schools.
Twenty-five years later, we remain in La Cañada for the very same reasons. Community and schools — the two La Cañada pillars that are deeply interconnected.
That’s why my husband Dave and I support Octavia Thuss for LCUSD Governing Board. Octavia:
· Understands our community ties are often based on school ties forged many years earlier — both in personal friendships and with La Cañada businesses.
· Knows LCUSD is a key factor in our premium home values. With Octavia, school district policies will be in responsible and capable hands.
· Has the unique K-12 professional expertise to understand complex academic and parenting issues.
With her track record in community and school leadership, Octavia would be a terrific addition to the LCUSD Governing Board. Please join us in voting for Octavia Thuss!

Julie Battaglia
La Cañada Flintridge

I wholeheartedly support Debra Barsom for the La Cañada Flintridge Unified School District Board.
Debra Barsom is a mom, wife, attorney and volunteer who has been very active in our community for the past 11 years. Debra is committed to using a common-sense approach for all students.
Debra, like my mom and dad, learned from her immigrant parents the value of hard work and an education. She watched them succeed with this philosophy and is teaching it to her children. Her goal is to have this philosophy prevalent in our school district.
Our students should be taught the basics in school, along with the values of honesty, integrity, honor and compassion. These are universal traits to which everyone should strive, which we especially need to teach our children.
Debra doesn’t believe politics should play a part in our school district. Her strong belief is that the School Board should focus on our children, our schools’ curriculum, and the well-being of all students. She believes in fair representation of reality.
Listening to differing opinions is a hallmark of her open-mindedness, and Debra believes trust needs to be rebuilt between our families, the district and our teachers. Debra wants, for the benefit of the children, to find a way forward strengthening these relationships. She is committed to academic excellence, improved communication and transparency without undue interference.
With more 50% of our school population in elementary schools, Debra will bring advocacy to these families as she is the only candidate with children in elementary schools. The elementary school years are crucial to teach the basics and lay down a strong foundation.
I believe it is important for our school board, for the sake of parents and children, to consist of parents like Debra Barsom.

Shadi Sanbar
La Cañada Flintridge

As a longtime volunteer with LCUSD and the greater community, I enthusiastically support Octavia Thuss for LCUSD School Board.
I was introduced to Octavia when I served as PTA President at LCE. She was a new parent at that time and she quickly became a valued volunteer. Over the years, I have seen Octavia as a dedicated, level-headed volunteer working with varied groups throughout our schools and the community. She is respected for her vision and support.
With her background in education and a parent to three children within the district, she cares about the quality of education for all students, and she will advocate fairly and passionately for students, families, teachers and administrators. I personally know Octavia to be an excellent listener who fully considers options before making important decisions. She is skilled at making things happen and effecting change when change is needed.
Octavia has a rare combination of approachability and fierce commitment that will allow her to work with diverse personalities and optimally serve the stakeholders of our school district.
Please join me in voting for Octavia Thuss for LCUSD School Board.

Christie Clarkson
La Cañada Flintridge

My mailbox has been inundated with campaign pieces for the upcoming election. Since I did not know much about the school board race I took the time to read a recent piece from Dan Jeffries. Much to my surprise, I found out that the LCUSD is promoting expanding the permit system to allow students to use their grandparents’ La Cañada Flintridge address to attend LCUSD schools!
When the parcel tax was passed, those very people were exempt from paying the tax under the theory they don’t have school-age children. Now these folks are getting a free ride. I have no children, but because I am not of age I have to pay the parcel tax. Doesn’t seem right, does it? Additionally, allowing out-of-the-area kids to attend La Cañada schools hurts the very property values we are all trying to protect. Allowing more out-of-the-area kids to attend our schools sounds like a terrible idea to me.

Edward Antonini
La Cañada Flintridge

As a parent of kids in our district, I’ve been watching the school board election with interest.
I didn’t know any of the candidates before this campaign season, but I can say for certain I have an opinion after attending coffees, reading their websites, asking them their views on different topics and watching the debate.
Debra Barsom is the best candidate, and I want to share why.
The Governing Board of our amazing schools is responsible for setting policy for staff to implement. The Governing Board is also responsible for being a connected leader in our community. Debra possesses these qualities as a lawyer and as a community leader.
I find Debra to be very reasonable and articulate, and her voice will add critical thinking to the discussions which will result in better solutions and guidance for our schools. She will fight for what is best for our kids and will listen to the parents in our community. After hearing some of the other candidates, I do not believe that their agendas are so singularly focused.
So please vote for our schools and vote for our kids. Vote for Debra Barsom!

Will Close
La Cañada Flintridge

Please teach your children at home about the facts of life early and often.
I also ask you not to limit your child’s participation in the rich, guided discussions at school.
In my experience as a volunteer and member of the school board for two terms, a small fraction of parents, less than 10%, underestimate the intellectual curiosity and prowess of their children at every age. To these parents’ credit, they want their children to enjoy childhood, and I applaud that. But politics, religion and sexuality are coming at these children full force — on playgrounds, in advertising during broadcasted sporting events, with breaking news — it’s all around them.
There are no extra teachers standing by to intercept your children and teach them alternate “cleansed curriculum” when you want them pulled out of class because certain literature and history is under discussion. The discussions continue for many days or weeks.
Please keep your children reading, engaged and in class. (What if parents started re-reading the politically-challenging and raucous Shakespeare, and then objecting? Where do we turn for great literature?) With parent-guided discussions at home and full engagement at school, our children will gain deep skills that will prepare them for a lifetime of continuing education.
Voters, please don’t fall for the dog whistle of “we need to rebuild trust.” Please join me in voting for Octavia Thuss for School Board. Octavia understands the daily goals and broader goals of education required to maintain our fabulous schools.

Cindy Wilcox
Retired member of the School Board, 2003 – 2011
La Cañada Flintridge

Throughout my life, first with my mother and now with my wife, I have witnessed how teachers dedicate their life to their students.
The classroom is unable to contain their hearts as they know their students, and unable to limit their hands as they tirelessly bring work home to make their learning environment as meaningful as possible. Such dedication is nothing short of a calling.
Octavia Thuss, as the only candidate for LCUSD Governing Board with teaching experience, embodies this dedication. My daughter looked forward to having her as a substitute teacher, because even then she modeled enthusiasm and compassion for her students. She is a teacher who is always willing to learn, listening to students and colleagues for greater understanding.
We place a heavy burden on our teachers. Our expectations as parents in LCUSD can be overwhelming. We need a board member who knows both sides of the classroom, as teacher and parent, to ensure we maintain the morale and support our teachers require as they bring out the best in our students.
Most importantly, we need a board member who can lead with compassion. When you talk with Octavia, you know she’s listening. She senses how confusing and troubling it can be to navigate our world as an adolescent. Students feel valued and respected when she is in the room with them. As a community that places our children first, a vote for Octavia Thuss is a vote for the well-being of our students today and for their future.

Rev. Kyle Sears
La Cañada Flintridge

I am writing this to recommend Debra Barsom for the La Cañada Unified School District School Board.
My name is Sloan Walsh and I have been a parent educator for the La Cañada Presbyterian Church Parent Education program for over 20 years now. Debra has been in many of my classes over the years and has also been a key supporter of our program since she started with us when her children were very young.
In every class Debra has participated in with me, she has demonstrated such a natural leadership and wisdom, not only in her parenting but in all areas of connection with the other parents and teachers in our program. She has served on our board, helping with various fund raisers and events to support our teachers and to bring much needed resources to keep our program strong and relevant.
As the eventual president of our board, she brought sound leadership at a time when it was most needed, gathering a strong group of recruited members and maintaining a solid foundation for us to run our program with efficiency and strength. She is now currently a part of the advisory board for the program.
We are so thankful for Debra Barsom. She is truly the real deal! Her intelligence, vast knowledge and sound, solid leadership qualities are truly a huge asset to every organization she is a part of.
I highly recommend Debra Barsom to a seat on the LCUSD School Board.

Sloan Walsh
La Cañada Flintridge


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