The race for the Saugus School Board was between two equally matched and equally qualified candidates: Bruce Fox and Julie Olsen.
However, it was Olsen that pulled ahead of Fox to win the election for Trustee Area No. 3 and replace retiring board member Rose Koscielny, after her 21 years representing the District.
“I am very excited; you just never know how these are going to turn out,” Olsen said. “I really want to help improve the district culture, make it a better, more collaborative work environment for our teachers and administration to help close the achievement gap.”
When all of the ballots were counted, Olsen received a total of 2,988 votes, or 55.72 percent, while Fox received a total of 2,375 votes, or 44.28 percent.
Olsen also expressed her gratitude to Fox for running a clean and focused campaign.
“I think that he and I did a good job focusing on the issues,” she said. “So I’m proud of that and grateful to him for that.”
In her new position, Olsen will represent a trustee area that includes Santa Clarita Elementary, Highlands Elementary and Charles Helmers Elementary. She will be officially sworn in at the board’s annual organizational meeting Dec. 6.
“We welcome Mrs. Olsen to the Governing Board of Trustees,” said Judy Egan Umeck, President of the Board in a statement. “She has a strong track record of advocating for the children of this district and we look forward to working collaboratively as a team, so we can continue our work, making education the top priority in the Santa Clarita Valley.”
During the election, the two candidates were nearly identical on all major school topics and board policy measures. Both share similar backgrounds in the education field and hold similar beliefs to address the Saugus Union School District Funding formula, district inequality, school safety, declining enrollment and the achievement gap.
For the board position, the two knew it would come down to who voters wanted to represent them on the district’s governing board.
Olsen, a corporate learning professional for 25 years, has served on site councils, PTA executive boards, school bond committees and the Hart District Advisory Council. Her major platform ideal was a focus on student achievement and the removal of the direct instruction mandate on teachers.
“Expanding the use of a wider array of teaching methods that align really well with the new Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards… is an important factor of attaining student achievement,” she said.
Fox, a retired Glendale Police Department lieutenant and Desert Christian School high school teacher, had prior experience serving as a member of the Castaic Union School District Governing Board. He wanted to see the board take a more hands-on approach addressing financial and attrition concerns and resolving issues with stakeholders.
“I want to create a more collaborative environment on our campuses as we implement new ideas and new technologies,” he said. “I want to make sure all voices and ideas are heard from all stakeholders.”
Both cited school safety as an important element of their platforms, wanting to implement district-wide solutions and mandates across SUSD’s 15 schools. Both candidates also wanted to promote parent involvement and stakeholder inclusion in future board practices and decisions.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_