LocationAlhambra , CA United States
Alhambra planning commissioner Wing Ho was appointed to the Alhambra Unified School District Board of Education during a special board meeting on Thursday evening.
Ho was elected in a three to one vote of the existing board members, after outlining a platform focused on school safety and a good teaching environment. Around 50 people attended the public hearing, including a number of concerned students and several representatives of the Alhambra Teachers Association.
“When we look at school districts, I believe that it needs to benefit not only our students but our staff, because they are giving their hearts to teach our students,” he said. “If they don’t feel comfortable, they don’t contribute 110 percent to our students — how can we expect my daughter to learn 110 percent?”
Ho is an architectural designer and project manager who also serves on Alhambra’s planning commission. He also stressed district communication with parents as an issue he is interested in and said that he could use his experience as a bilingual Chinese and English speaker to bridge communication gaps.
He replaces Adele Andrade-Stadler who resigned the position after being elected to Alhambra’s City Council in November. AUSD decided to appoint someone to her open seat, rather than hold a costly election.
Registered voters living in the first nominating district were eligible to apply for the vacant school board seat. Out of 12 applicants, nine candidates were interviewed on Thursday night. Each of the nine had about 15 minutes to answer the board’s questions and then offer a two-minute closing statement. Before electing Ho, the existing school board was deadlocked at 2-2 over candidates Britni Soto and Jeremy Langill. Candidate Marcia Wilson was nominated by board president Robert L. Gin, but was not seconded for a vote.
Ho will be officially appointed to the school board on Jan. 29.
The Los Angeles teachers’ strike also loomed over the proceedings, as each candidate was asked about the recent educational issue they were most concerned with and how they would work with the district to address them. Several candidates expressed their anxiety over charter schools, which they characterized as privatizing public education.
“I definitely have a strong opinion [on charter schools] based on my informed perspectives, but I would also like to hear from parents who would like to have choice,” said school board candidate Marcia Wilson, an administrator at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.
Candidates were also questioned about their ability to work with administrators and the rest of the board, their views towards equity in education and how, if confronted in daily life, they would address parental concerns on hot-button issues.
Spectators expressed surprise at how quickly the vote occurred, with no public deliberation from the board members, after the interviews took almost three hours. “I just question what the board members were looking for and what they thought that board member could bring to the table,” said Brittany Tang, a senior at Alhambra High School.
Tang said that she and her peers from Vote at 16, a student organization campaigning to let 16-year-olds vote in school board elections, hoped that the new school board member would address issues like school safety, mental health and teacher accountability.
At the end of the evening, Gin recognized City Councilmember Andrade-Stadler who was in attendance. She noted that the group of nine reflected an excellent pool of candidates and urged them to stay involved in Alhambra schools and in other commissions working for the betterment of Alhambra.
Updated on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.