News

Six candidates for Board of Education vie for three open seats in unprecedented school year

Voters to decide between two incumbents, four newcomers

From top to bottom, left to right: Katie Causey, Todd Collins, Jennifer DiBrienza, Jesse Ladomirak, Matt Nagle and Karna Nisewaner are running for Palo Alto school board. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Six candidates are running for three open seats on the Board of Education during a school year that looks like nothing public education has seen before.

Whoever is elected to the board in November will be tasked with making difficult decisions around the safe reopening of schools, what instruction should look like during a pandemic and addressing turmoil among some teachers and parents who have opposed reopening. If voters don't approve a parcel tax renewal in November, they could also be facing a $15.6 million hole in the district budget.

Incumbents Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza are running for reelection. Board member Melissa Baten Caswell, who will end her third term in November, is instead running for a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education.

The two incumbents and four newcomers — Katie Causey, Jesse Ladomirak, Matthew Nagle and Karna Nisewaner — overlap in their stances on many major school issues but would bring diverse personal and professional perspectives to the dais. Some of the challengers were motivated to run because of their own frustrations as parents with the current board's handling of school closures.

While much of the campaign has focused on the school district's response to the pandemic, voters will be looking to the newly constituted board to make progress on longstanding issues such as governance transparency, the achievement gap, student mental health and academic excellence.

Read our profiles of the six candidates:

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Six candidates for Board of Education vie for three open seats in unprecedented school year

Voters to decide between two incumbents, four newcomers

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Oct 7, 2020, 6:25 pm

Six candidates are running for three open seats on the Board of Education during a school year that looks like nothing public education has seen before.

Whoever is elected to the board in November will be tasked with making difficult decisions around the safe reopening of schools, what instruction should look like during a pandemic and addressing turmoil among some teachers and parents who have opposed reopening. If voters don't approve a parcel tax renewal in November, they could also be facing a $15.6 million hole in the district budget.

Incumbents Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza are running for reelection. Board member Melissa Baten Caswell, who will end her third term in November, is instead running for a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education.

The two incumbents and four newcomers — Katie Causey, Jesse Ladomirak, Matthew Nagle and Karna Nisewaner — overlap in their stances on many major school issues but would bring diverse personal and professional perspectives to the dais. Some of the challengers were motivated to run because of their own frustrations as parents with the current board's handling of school closures.

While much of the campaign has focused on the school district's response to the pandemic, voters will be looking to the newly constituted board to make progress on longstanding issues such as governance transparency, the achievement gap, student mental health and academic excellence.

Katie Causey

Todd Collins

Jennifer DiBrienza

Jesse Ladomirak

Matt Nagle

Karna Nisewaner

More election coverage:

VIDEOS: Watch our debate and interviews with the six Palo Alto school board candidates

INFOGRAPHICS: In their own words: Where the candidates stand on the issues

Comments

Melissa Anderson (Look)
Registered user
Community Center
on Oct 8, 2020 at 10:32 am
Melissa Anderson (Look), Community Center
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2020 at 10:32 am
4 people like this

Melissa Baten Caswell is completing her THIRD term.


2 x PAUSD Parent
Registered user
Triple El
on Oct 8, 2020 at 10:56 am
2 x PAUSD Parent, Triple El
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2020 at 10:56 am
32 people like this

Someone with NO kids in the district schools should NOT be on the board.


Gunn Papa
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Oct 8, 2020 at 11:18 am
Gunn Papa, Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2020 at 11:18 am
28 people like this

I’m waiting to see if the weekly is going to blindly endorse the two incumbents like the Post did. Bill Johnson is fairly conservative, and I know he will be under pressure to reward those candidates who have given the Weekly the most money. Personally, I’ll take any of the challengers.


My thoughts on who to vote for.
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 8, 2020 at 11:43 am
My thoughts on who to vote for., Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2020 at 11:43 am
14 people like this

DiBrienza and Collins have done a reasonable job and deserve another term and Nisewaner seems like a competent adult with no baggage and no crazy issues that she is pushing. I'm looking for adults who can try to educate the next generation and not push flaky or topical crazy ideas that don't help most kids in the system. Let's get back to basics.


Barron Park dad
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 8, 2020 at 3:04 pm
Barron Park dad, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2020 at 3:04 pm
26 people like this

I'll be voting for candidates who are experienced and strong enough to coach the current PAUSD Superintendent. Don Austin doesn't seem to possess much of an "of service" attitude in dealing with legitimate parental concerns but rather exudes a "frankly, I know better that you; talk to the hand" attitude. It's really grating.


Ardan Michael Blum
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 9, 2020 at 5:51 pm
Ardan Michael Blum, Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2020 at 5:51 pm
22 people like this

Katie Causey has my vote. She is a first rate person with great dedication for helping and working with others. She is also a true Palo Altan - aware of all issues and devoted to our town.


No on O!
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 9, 2020 at 9:53 pm
No on O!, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2020 at 9:53 pm
8 people like this

The PAUSD 14th Day Enrollment Report, 2020-21 came out today, October 9. We are down 8% this year, continuing a declining trend.

What's the need for a parcel tax that represents 6% of the PAUSD budget when PAUSD has lost 8% of its enrollment? ($15.6 million projected revenue from the parcel tax/$267 million 2020-21 projected annual budget)

Interesting how timed this was to come out after the weekly article on the parcel tax.

Why is PAUSD announcing its enrollment in a parents only email on a Friday night rather than as an agenda item at a public board meeting, as it has done every year for the past 5 consecutive years? The 10th-14th day enrollment report is not on the Oct. 13th board agenda - Web Link.

Vote No on Measure O!


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