The Old Adobe Union School District in east Petaluma features high performing schools, increasing enrollment and a stable budget. These are not givens in the world of education today — it takes solid leadership to achieve this level of success.
The current Old Adobe school board features five members with diverse backgrounds who work well as a unit, each contributing from their area of expertise. The three board incumbents running for reelection this November — Michael Fung, Patsy Knight and Anthony Bendik — all deserve support.
Fresh voices are sometimes important to add to an elected body, and Kimberly Shaver, the lone challenger in the race, certainly could do a fine job. But when a school board is running smoothly and there are no major concerns in the district, voters should keep the current makeup.
At 28 years old, Fung is the youngest board member, yet he already has four years of experience serving the district. He grew up in Petaluma, attended Miwok Elementary and received a political science degree from UC Davis.
A logistics manager for a wine brokerage, he has a good handle on the district’s $24 million budget, which, thanks to basic aid funding and increasing enrollment, is in good shape.
Bendik, a San Francisco firefighter, has the most institutional knowledge of any current board member, having first been appointed in 2010. A parent with children in the district, Bendik, 46, was on the board during the passage of the district’s 2012 bond measure. He has helped manage the bond revenue, overseeing upgrades at the five elementary campuses.
He is a strong champion of Measure L, a $38.5 million bond measure on the November ballot, which he said will finish the improvement projects at the district schools. He was instrumental in hiring Superintendent Craig Conte, who has proven an adept leader.
Knight, 72, brings more than two decades of experience as a teacher in the district. She can look at difficult problems from that unique perspective. Before her election to the board in 2014, she spent five years on the Old Adobe Teachers Association, attending most of the school board meetings.
She said the board’s relationship with district teachers has never been better thanks to its interspace bargaining policy. Her strength on the board comes from asking tough questions of administrators.
Shaver, 36, should be commended for her interest in serving the public. A mother of three young children, she also has a background in education as a science teacher. She has leadership experience as a member of the Old Adobe Parent Teacher Organization, but she did not articulate a specific agenda or set of issues to tackle if elected to the school board.
In good times, there is no need for a leadership change. The Old Adobe Union School District is certainly experiencing good times, and its three incumbent board members should be re-elected.
The Argus-Courier recommends Michael Fung, Anthony Bendik and Patsy Knight for Old Adobe Union School District board.