Three of the four governing board seats up for election in the Newhall School District have candidates running unopposed, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, but Area No. 2 of the Newhall district will feature multiple community members vying for the opportunity to represent the students and staff of NSD.
Brian Walters and Isaiah Talley will claim their seats with no opposition, along with newcomer Ernesto Smith, who took advantage of an extended filing deadline after current board President Philip Ellis announced he would be not running.
Larry Heath, Donna Rose and Liz Guardado will each seek a chance to represent Area No. 2 on the Newhall board after Christy Smith announced her intent to run for the 18th District State Assembly seat, according L.A. County records.
Ernesto Smith, who’s running unopposed for Area No. 3, could not be reached for comment Friday or Monday.
The candidates for Area No. 2 each cited their experience in the district as the reason why they should have your vote this November.
Donna Rose and her husband moved to Santa Clarita more than 30 years ago because of the area’s quality schools and peaceful community.
The former member of Old Orchard Elementary School’s PTA worked in the district’s business department for eight years before assuming an assistant superintendent position in the Santa Paula Unified School District, which is similar to Newhall, she added.
“All of that experience put together will bring a great deal of knowledge that will help my fellow board members,” Rose said. “If they have questions about the budget, new projects or things like that, (then) I’d be able to communicate and be a resource or asset to all.”
Rose said she has enjoyed working in education, so when the opportunity to run for the NSD board presented itself, she thought there was no better way to give back to the teachers, students and community who’d done so much for her and her family.
“I feel strongly that this is one of the best, if not the best, districts in the state. I want to see that continue,” Rose said. “In the next couple of years, budgets are going to tighten a bit and school boards will have to make good decisions on how to use the money.”
New schools are expected to be developed, and maintaining quality programs while being fiscally responsible is key when a new school is coming online, Rose said. “I have extensive experience in school developments,” like the one that Santa Paula will break ground on next year.
Along with fiscal responsibility, Rose said she will also focus on student security and safety, whether that be physical fences or internet safety policies relating to bullying.
“I’m hoping the voters will support my candidacy, Rose said. “I want to be a very strong and effective school board member for the staff, students and community.”
Larry Heath has been involved in the Newhall School District for more than 35 years.
Originally starting as a teacher in the Saugus Union School District, Heath enjoyed a lengthy career in education that included time as principal of Newhall, Wiley Canyon, McGrath and Meadows elementary schools. Even after his retirement, Heath has remained involved in the district thanks to his son.
“I have accumulated so much experience and knowledge of the community and the values and expectations that parents have, and I thought the best way to do that was as a governing board member,” Heath said. “I’ve been retired for three years, so I think it’s time to step back in and make some contributions.”
“We have the developments coming in and I know a period of rapid growth can be stressful on a district,” Heath said. “When I started there were five schools and when I left there were 10. It took time for Newhall to become a great district, and I want to sustain that.”
As a former member of the bargaining team, Heath said he understands the issues that teachers find important.
“I can offer that continuity and the institutional knowledge,” he said, “and contribute that to the conversation.”
Born and raised in Santa Clarita, Guardado attended Newhall and Old Orchard elementary schools before graduating from the Hart District. She and her husband of 10 years chose Santa Clarita as the place to raise their three boys because of the family-focused community, she said.
As a member of her children’s PTSA and a classroom volunteer, Guardado said, “I have the ability to be present and see firsthand what our children need within their learning environment to help them excel.”
If elected, Guardado said she will focus on the physical and mental safety of NSD’s children. She will also focus on transparency and ensure the district is fiscally responsible.
“As the intermediary between the district and the schools, I will see how district-level decisions impact their day-to-day lives,” Guardado said. “I’ve spoken to some of my neighbors, friends and parents within our district and they feel underrepresented.”
As a persistent, reliable, passionate and self-driven person, Guardado said she has the qualities that make her the best candidate to represent the children and their best interests.
“I owe part of my success to the public education I received from the Newhall School District and I want to give back by helping ensure that all children, including my own, receive the best public education possible,” Guardado said. “It takes a village to give a child the confidence and tools they need to become a responsible global citizen. I want to be a part of that village for all of our kids.”