School districts elect new board officers

SCV natives shine in academics. Courtesy photo

The end of the calendar year also marks the start of a new term for elected officers in Santa Clarita’s five school districts and its Community College District.

During the first few weeks of December, and at the final governing board meetings of the calendar year, board members in all of the districts nominate and elect members to officer positions.

Santa Clarita Community College District

The Santa Clarita Community College District, which governs College of the Canyons, elected its newest officers during its Dec. 7 organizational and business meeting at COC.

Steven Zimmer was elected as president, Michael Berger as vice president, Michele Jenkins as clerk and COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook as secretary/parliamentarian.

Zimmer was first elected Jan. 14, 2013 and was reelected Nov. 8, 2016 where he ran unopposed in District 3.

“It will be an exciting, educational year.  We need to do as much as we can to achieve student success,” Zimmer said to the Signal following his election Dec. 7.  “I am looking forward to a year of success.”

Outside of serving on the board of trustees, Zimmer is an attorney at the Law Offices of Steven D. Zimmer and has served on the College of the Canyons Foundation Board and the Santa Clarita Child and Family Center Board.

William S. Hart Union High School District

Longtime Hart Governing Board member Joe Messina was elected as board president during the board’s organizational meeting Dec. 14.

Messina, who represents Trustee Area No. 5, served as clerk of the board during 2016 and will replace former board president Robert Hall.

During his time in Santa Clarita, Messina was part of several school site councils, advisory committees, education foundations and parent advisory councils including the SCV Education Foundation, the William S. Hart District Advisory Council, La Mesa Junior High School PAC and Sierra Vista Junior High School PAC.

Other elected officers, include Steven Sturgeon to the position of board clerk and Bob Jensen to the position of assistant clerk.

Their terms will last for one year until the board’s reorganization meeting in December 2017.

Saugus Union School District

In the Saugus District, David Powell was elected to the position of board president and Christopher Trunkey was elected to the position of board clerk at the board’s Dec. 6 organizational meeting.

Powell was first appointed to the governing board in July 2014.  He is a professor of public policy who lives in Saugus with his wife and four children.

“I am honored to be elected by my colleagues to the position of president.  I view the board as five equal members who all have an equal say in decisions,” Powell said.  “I am also appreciative of the support of our community in returning me to this position.”

As president, Powell said his goals include continuing capital improvements to facilities as part of the Measure EE bond and providing state-of-the-art technology to classrooms to enhance student learning.

He also hopes to provide support to the district’s professional cabinet, teachers and staff and to continue board outreach to further involve constituents in the decision-making process.

“One of my goals when I joined the board was to enhance the transparency of decision making and I am proud of what the district has accomplished in this regard,” he said.

Before being elected to the board, Powell served as president and member of site councils West Creek Academy and Bouquet Canyon Elementary, the SUSD Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) and the SUSD Alternative Revenue Committee.

“I truly believe in public service and am excited to continue my service on the board,” he said.

Castaic Union School District


At its Dec. 8 organizational meeting, the Castaic District Governing Board elected Susan Christopher as board president, Laura Pearson as board clerk and Stacy Dobbs as presiding officer.

Christopher moved to Castaic in 2003 with her husband, Matt, and her two sons, Trey and Hobbs.  She has experience in the school arena working as both a COC professor of political science and a former substitute teacher for Castaic District schools.

She is also an attorney and administers two mentoring programs for youth in Los Angeles public schools and foster youth in Northeast Los Angeles.

“Being part of the Castaic School Board is an honor; being president is just the icing on that cake,” Christopher said.  “We were elected to the board to serve our students and our community, and it means the world to have the chance to help in any way I can.”

During her terms as president, Christopher said she hopes to faithfully represent the board, share news with the community and be available to hear feedback from staff and community members.

“Our board is committed to continuing to learn and govern our district effectively,” Christopher said.  “We hope to partner with our community to provide them with the educational options they want for their children.”

The board also hopes to partner with local and federal governmental leaders and continue its work with technology-based STEM curriculum, arts-integrated curriculum and career-pathway programs.

“That happens because we have such committed teachers, that through some hard financial years have continued to give our students everything they have,” Christopher said.  “It’s our goal to find every way we can to honor and recognize our amazing teachers for their hard work.”

Newhall School District

In the Newhall School District, three positions were up for grabs at the governing board’s Dec. 13 organizational meeting: president, clerk and clerk pro tem.

At the meeting, board members elected Christy Smith as president, Philip Ellis as clerk and Brian Walters as clerk pro tem.

Smith was first elected to the board in 2009 before her reelection in 2013.  This will be her second term as board president, having served in the position in 2011.

“I work with such wonderful, collaborative board and we always have seamlessly transitioned to this position,” Smith said.

In the upcoming year, Smith said the board will focus on completing projects from the district’s Measure E funds.  The district will also begin planning for what it determines will be its funding from Prop 51, a California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative passed by California voters this election season.

Smith said the board is also looking to implement the NEXT Generation Science Standards and a new English/Language Arts curriculum district-wide.

“We will be continuing to make strides in student achievements… by expanding the arts and sciences,” Smith said.  “We will continue working collaboratively with both our administrative team and amazing teachers… to develop those relationships that really foster student success.”

Before being elected to the governing board, Smith held PTA positions and was the founding president of the Valencia Valley Foundation.  She also served as a policy analyst with the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

Sulphur Springs School District


The Governing Board of the Sulphur Springs School District elected three members to the positions of president, clerk and presiding officer at its Dec. 7 organizational meeting.

Shelley Weinstein was elected as board president, Ken Chase as clerk and Denis Defigueriedo as presiding officer.

Weinstein was reelected as board president this year and has served as a member of the board since 2003.  As a board member, she has served as the president of the SCV School Trustees Association and as a director on the Executive Board of the LA County School Trustees Association.

Before being elected to the board, Weinstein served on a variety of district committees and was an active PTA board member, receiving the PTA Honorary Service and Golden Oak Awards.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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