Two remarkably qualified candidates have stepped forward to join the race for the lone open Saugus Union School District seat on the November ballot.
The two would bring different backgrounds and different experiences to the position, but we believe both also bring the critical values of lifelong learning, a will to serve and a dedication to improve the district.
The Nov. 8 election is the first held by the district by voting areas, rather than at large. Only residents of Trustee Area 3 will vote in this election.
The first candidate for the Trustee Area 3 seat is Bruce Fox, a resident of the Santa Clarita Valley since 1987 who served for 30 years on the Glendale Police Department and has had children in the SUSD for 18 years.
Fox has been active in youth sports, including AYSO soccer, served on a school site council and on another elementary school district board, and currently teaches at a private Antelope Valley high school.
Julie Olsen is a corporate learning professional who oversees large-scale training projects for a large consulting firm. The 11-year Santa Clarita Valley resident has a son in the Saugus Union School District and has served on site councils, PTA executive boards, school bond committees and on the Hart District Advisory Council.
Two other Saugus Union board members who were appointed to office will not stand for election because no one filed to run against them.
Olsen is endorsed by COC board president Bruce Fortine, Saugus Union board member Chris Trunkey, former Hart district board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine and many community and Saugus Union parents and volunteers.
Fox is endorsed by Rose Koscielny, the current board member representing SUSD Trustee Area 3, along with current board members Paul De La Cerda and David Powell, and current and former Santa Clarita City Council members Dante Acosta, Laurene Weste, Cameron Smyth, Laurie Ender and Dennis Koontz.
Both Fox and Olsen expressed concern about high turnover at Saugus Union School District. Olsen cited turnover among financial managers and in teachers and said she wants the teachers to be allowed the freedom of using varied learning methods available through Common Core.
“Expanding the use of a wider array of teaching methods … is an important factor of attaining student achievement,” she said.
In addition, “The family feel slid away in this district,” she said, calling for an outreach from the district to more engage parents in their children’s education and in the district.
Fox wants to see more leadership from the board in solving financial, attrition and other problems, he said.
As an example, he talked about parents’ anger when special education students’ schools where changed, after which board members “kept referring to the decision of the superintendent. I feel that this is a significant public policy issue and the board should have voted to hold a public hearing and make the decision themselves after gaining more information,” Fox said.
He said the district needs to update school safety plans, return drug education to the sixth grade and develop a succession plan for the administration.
Fox has a strong vision of the school board’s role with parents, administrators, within the district and with other public agencies. He served on the Castaic Union School District board in the 1990s and has excellent leadership skills.
We believe he is the better choice of the two strong candidates for the Saugus Union School District Trustee Area 3 seat.