Four apply for Menlo school board seat


Four applicants for a vacant seat on the Menlo Park City School District board will be interviewed by board members on Tuesday, June 21, at a special meeting that begins at 6 p.m. The board will deliberate and appoint one of the candidates at the end of the meeting.

Ana Uribe Ruiz, who unsuccessfully ran for the board last November, has applied for the seat, as has former board member Jeffrey Child. The other applicants are Pam Larkin and Ivan Montoya.

The appointment will be for the remainder of Mark Box's term, which expires in December 2012; Mr. Box has resigned from the board, effective June 30, to move to Spain.

Residents of the district, which serves parts of Menlo Park and Atherton, had until 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 17, to apply for the position. Each candidate was required to submit a written statement with the application. The following information is from the statements.

Jeffrey Child

Mr. Child was elected to the board in 2006, and didn't seek re-election when his four-year term ended last year. He was a board member and the treasurer of the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation, which supports the K-8 district, from 2004 to 2008.

He has been a board member of the Menlo-Atherton High School Foundation for the Future since last year, and is a member of the city of Menlo Park's Finance and Audit Committee. He currently sits on the board of the Amerigroup corporation.

Pam Larkin

Ms. Larkin has three children who attend or formerly attended district schools. She's a nine-year member of the district's Strategic Planning Committee, and has chaired and co-chaired the Encinal Site Council for the last two years. She also has volunteered in classroom math, reading, library, and science programs.

Among her previous experience, Ms. Larkin lists having designed and implemented science curriculum and instruction based on state standards and research on how children learn best. She also has provided professional development for teachers.

Ivan Montoya

Mr. Montoya has four children who attend or have attended district schools. He served on the Oak Knoll Site Council from 2003 to 2009, chairing the group during his final two years.

He has a master's degree in education, as well as an MBA, from Stanford, and during graduate school worked at an educational software startup. He recently began work at Teachscape, a company that develops tools and provides services to help teachers improve their skills. He leads the company's work with the Gates Foundation on the Measures of Effective Teaching project.

Ana Uribe Ruiz

Ms. Uribe Ruiz has a child with special needs at a district school, and has had to "emerge myself in understanding how the school system works and how that relates to the education that my son gets." As she did during her November 2010 run for a seat on the school board, she stresses the need for a "balanced representation for all students."

A banker for more than 25 years, Ms. Uribe Ruiz is a member of HISPA, a group of Latino professionals who serve as role models within their educational communities, with the goal of increasing the number of Hispanic students who graduate from high school.

To review the complete statements of the four candidates, go to Statements and click on the Meetings link. Then click on Item II. a.

The June 21 board meeting will be held at the district office at 181 Encinal Ave. in Atherton.

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Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Well done - it appears the the Board has four well qualified candidates And congratulations to the Board for releasing this information promptly as for its commitment to considering and making its decision in public session and after the opportunity for public comment.

It is now up to concerned citizens to let the Board know if they have input on these candidates.

Like this comment
Posted by Glimmer of Hope
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I agree! Thank you to the Board for releasing this information ahead of time as a courtesty to all who care about the direction the Menlo Park City School District will be taking. A decision this important is worth an hour or two of your time to listen and comment.

Tuesday, June 21st, 6 p.m.

The more people who attend, the more likely it will be that this will be a legitimate and open selection process and not a foregone conclusion. Hoping this will be the beginning of a new and more open era.

Like this comment
Posted by and the winner is...
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I also appreciate the more open process, and believe that we can thank ourselves for the pressure we have applied to Ranella & company.

If anyone other than Jeff Child wins, I will be absolutely 100% stunned.

Like this comment
Posted by smartvoter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2011 at 2:04 am

Historically, individuals with a strong track record of community service have been selected by the voters. Only two of the applicants have previously run. In 2006, Child came in 2nd place by 247 votes, and in 2010 Uribe-Ruiz came in 4th by 2073 votes.

- Jeffrey B. Child ... 5,645 votes Web Link
- Ana C. Uribe-Ruiz ... 3,050 votes Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Good Process
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

I'm not sure what "and the winner is...." has against Jeff Child?? Jeff is an incredible mind, he knows his stuff, he just recently left and I think it would be a very good thing to have Jeff come back, for the shortened term. Jeff would definitely help us during this transition time with our new Superintendent. I DO hope Jeff gets the nod.

Like this comment
Posted by and the winner is...
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:31 am

No knocks on Jeff Child. I know him fairly well (our sons are friends) and he is the obvious choice, given his experience. The problem is that he would not have gotten elected to the board in the first place if he weren't part of the in-group. It would be nice to have a little more diversity of opinion and background on the board, and I believe there are smart, talented people in our district who are not part of that group and who would serve our schools satisfactorily.

However, looks as though we're going to abide by the status quo this time. Maybe in the next election (if anyone is brave enough to run without having been handpicked) we'll finally get a trustee who isn't an insider? Dream on!

Like this comment
Posted by The Fix is In
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I'm with "and the winner is"...the fix is in and Jeff Child it is. That's why no one else ever bothers to run for these positions. Everyone is afraid to challenge the tradition of being vetted by the Foundation and risk shunning. Although Ivan has some links to it as well so he may have some tiny chance.

At least this time there's some competition (or so it seems) and the board is making an attempt to be more open about the process, but a lot of people who were interested dropped out after the first board meeting when the criteria was so obviously written for an insider.

Is there really no room for diversity of thought in the MPCSD? This could be the chance to show that there is.

Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I love it when people complain about a well qualified candidate. If it is not the one they want rather than accept that the Board chose the best qualified person they would rather cry wolf by saying the fix is in. I have seen no evidence of the Menlo Park School District Board rigging selections. So rather than making baseless accusations before the selection has even been made it would best to go to the meeting and make the argument for your candidate in public comment. If you don't like the way the Menlo Park School Board makes its decisions then run for the MPSD Board.

Like this comment
Posted by will of the people
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Jeff Child ran in a contested election and won. The voters expect the school board will be open minded but also respectful of the will of the people, when making the section of the new member.

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Posted by and the winner is...
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm

There has never been, in my memory (many years in the district and at one point an insider) a truly contested election. The usual scenario is that 2-3 seats are available, and the board and friends decide who should take those seats. Those selected then form a slate.

If no one else is brave or ignorant enough to run, then there is no election. I'd estimate this happens about half the time.

When someone outside the system does sign up to run, the slate and their backers (the Foundation, the PTOs) come together to raise money and campaign. Rumors are circulated about the lone candidate. (If you've been paying attention on this forum, you've seen some of the flak directed against the woman who ran solo in the last election.)

Voters look at their ballots and see three familiar names plus the name of a fourth person who has been the victim of a smear campaign. Given these facts, it's little wonder that the slate always wins. What's amazing was that in the last election, the solo candidate made a respectable showing.

Again, Jeff is perfectly qualified to serve, and I appreciate his willingness to return to the board. The problems do not lie with him but with the process. And maybe our new sup will be different and will not have Ranella's desire to control everything. Ranella has never trusted the will of the people! I guess we'll see.

Like this comment
Posted by Good Process
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Amazing, amazing, amazing. Amazing that I actually agree with Hank Lawrence, and amazing that accusations such as: "rumors are circulated" and "smear campaign" and "Ranella's desire to control everything", actually get air time! Can't you people stop the madness and the idiot speak? No facts, just a bunch of smear yourselves. And, for the record, Ranella doesn't control anything, he works FOR the School Board. Leave it alone, all of these people are fantastic, reputable people that work hard, have done an incredible job and I honestly cannot find one major issue with this Board. We do have elections, and we do allow "the people" to decide, go blog your negative garbage somewhere else. Unbelievable.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Good Process - go back and read all this thread - it is primarily positive and supportive. Why are you being so negative?

Like this comment
Posted by Atherton Parent
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I was unable to attend tonight due to a work commitment. Is there any feedback yet?

Like this comment
Posted by JohnWoodell
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm

JohnWoodell is a registered user.

I was one of only two individuals that spoke during the public comment. After three hours of interviews and discussion, the board selected Jeff Child.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 22, 2011 at 6:51 am

"After three hours of interviews and discussion, the board selected Jeff Child."

Congratulations MPCSD Board on your open and deliberative process in making this appointment.

Like this comment
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

I also attended last nights meeting, and thought the Board did an outstanding job.

Four great candidates presented themselves for consideration, and quite frankly this gives us great candidates for the next election in 2012. They were all qualified to do the job, had special skills that would enhance the Board, and had been involved in the district.

We (MPCSD) are lucky to have these qualified candidates willing to serve the public.

The Boards choice of Jeff Childs will make the transition of the Districts new Superintendent smooth.

The district faces challenges in curriculum, budgets and growth and we are well equipped at the leadership level to solve these issues.

Congratulations Jeff and good luck.

Roy Thiele-Sardina

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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