October 26, 2004
Battling the Legislature for more funding to reduce class sizes and improve teacher salaries is high on the list of priorities for all five governing board candidates in the Mesa Unified School District.
The candidates, who are vying for three seats on the Nov. 2 ballot, met Monday evening at La Casita Community Center in Dobson Lakes.
Lynn Burnham, of the Westwood High School attendance area, said the disbursement of students is not even among district schools. He said some Mesa classrooms serve 31 children including English learners, while other classrooms in more affluent areas serve only 22 students.
Rich Crandall, of the Mountain View High School area, said he has seen the same problem, with 36 students on average in each of Hermosa Vista Elementary School’s sixth-grade classes.
Cindi Hobbs, the only incumbent running, agreed that many classrooms are too crowded.
"We’re pushing our numbers here," Hobbs said. She also said teacher salaries need to be more competitive.
"We need to work hard to create competitive salaries to attract more teachers to schools," she said.
Carmen Guerrero, of the Westwood area, agreed and added that she wanted to create a committee for parents to speak out. The district now has no public comment period during board meetings.
Dave Lane, of the Mesa High School area, said another of his main reasons for running is to make Mesa better known for its special education program. He said he was urged to enroll his daughter, who has Down syndrome, in another district — but opted instead to stay and improve Mesa’s program.
All five candidates said they would support renewing the district’s 10 percent budget override to maintain $30 million in extra funding, which pays for 136 teacher salaries, classroom supplies and other programs.