Camille Townsend elected school board president

Dana Tom elected vice-president as school board reorganizes for coming year

Palo Alto school board members Tuesday night (Dec. 13) elected Camille Townsend to lead the board as president for the coming year.

She took the gavel from outgoing president Melissa Baten Caswell.

Board member Dana Tom was elected board vice-president.

Townsend, first elected to the board in 2003 and re-elected in 2007, also served as board president in 2006-07.

In rare split votes of the board, she has parted with the majority on the 2009 decision to adopt the Everyday Mathematics curriculum for Palo Alto elementary schools, and a decision this year to shift the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic calendars to an earlier school start date in order to end the first semester before the December holidays.

Townsend is an officer of the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation, which sponsors the Palo Alto Black & White Ball, a fundraiser for recreational and youth activities in the Palo Alto area.

She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, a master's degree in public policy from American University and a law degree from Loyola University of Chicago.

She has publicly commented that although both her parents did not go beyond the eighth grade, all eight of their children went to college and beyond.

Her two daughters are graduates of Palo Alto High School.

Townsend's second term -- along with the first terms of board members Caswell and Barbara Klausner -- had been due to expire last month. However, following the resounding passage last year of a Palo Alto measure to consolidate City Council elections with even-year county and state balloting as a cost-saving effort, the Board of Education in January voted to follow suit.

As a consequence, school board elections were moved from November 2011 to November 2012, adding a year to the board tenures of Caswell, Klausner and Townsend.

Chris Kenrick

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Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2011 at 9:14 am

It is worth saying that although she voted against Everyday Math and changing the calendar, she was one of the strongest proponents for MI.

However, I feel that she does listen to the pulse of the community and parents.

Like this comment
Posted by stronglydisagree!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2011 at 8:49 am

I don't think she listens at all to the pulse of the community and parents, instead she listens to staff as her paramount influence. If you watch board meetings over any period of time, it is always "staff this, staff that," but on a vague anecdotal basis that you can't really figure out. She's just expressing the behind-the-scenes stuff that is influencing policy without public disclosure. That's what happened with the Paly math letter, for example. And I am sure Ms. Townsend will be the last person to do the right thing and repudiate that letter and get A-G alignment back on track. Please prove us wrong Ms. Townsend, but your track record reflects that is very unlikely to happen.

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