A vacant seat on the Castaic Union School District’s governing board prompted district leaders to appoint local resident John Richard as a representative for the students, parents and stakeholders who live in the southeast side of the district.
Interviews were held Tuesday night at the district office where Superintendent Steve Doyle and governing board members attempted to decipher which of the two candidates was the more qualified to be appointed the new trustee of Area D, which will be left vacant by outgoing incumbent Susan Christopher after she chose not to file for re-election this upcoming November.
Richard was the first to take the floor during the night’s interview process.
During his 15-minute discussion with board members, the former substitute teacher shared the talents, skills and knowledge that would allow him to thrive as a trustee, along with the issues that he’d like to focus on if elected to represent the more than 2,000 students enrolled at Castaic Union school sites.
As he discussed his goal to be the best trustee possible, Richard said he’d actively get out to various schools and ask questions to learn the concerns of various district stakeholders.
“It’s about being accountable,” he said before he spoke on the most pressing issues facing the district, such as enrollment and teacher retirements.
“What can we do to make this community more attractive for young families?” Richard asked. “How can we work together to fix the issue?”
Challenger Lea Lanfranco was next to state her case for why she should represent Castaic Union students.
Lanfranco said she’d use her strong communication skills and bring a business perspective to the district, which could prove useful when configuring the budget.
Like Richard, Lanfranco spoke about enrollment and teacher pensions becoming increasingly worrisome for districts across the state, but she said she believes the district will get to the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I would just like to see the standards of education be maintained or improved,” Lanfranco said. “I may not have children in the school district at this time,” but the future of the world is of great concern to her right now.
With the completion of the two interviews, the board began deliberating among themselves for some time before narrowly voting to appoint Richard as the replacement for Area D.
Laura Pearson, Mayreen Burk, and Christopher voted for Richard, while Stacy Dobbs and Fred Malcomb supported Lanfranco.
“They were two great candidates,” Burk said at the close of the meeting. “I wouldn’t have minded having either one.”
The term will begin Dec. 7, Doyle said.