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Forum draws small crowd

Three of the four candidates for La Cañada school board participate in event sponsored by local Republican club.

October 27, 2011|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • Community members listen to a debate between school board candidates Ellen Multari,left, Jeanne Broberg, center, and Ernest Koeppen, right, for the school board race that culminates on Nov. 8 at La Canada Community Center in La Canada, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011. (Photo by Libby Cline)
Community members listen to a debate between school board…

With election day less than two weeks away, La Cañada school board candidates on Wednesday night delved deeper in the nuances of district management — including hours spent on the job, the exploration of alternative revenue streams and teacher evaluations — at a debate hosted by the La Cañada Republican Club.

The event at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge drew about 30 people who heard from three of the four candidates in the Nov. 8 election: Jeanne Broberg, Ellen Multari and Ernest Koeppen.

Andrew “AJ” Blumenfeld, a 20-year-old Princeton University student, did not attend, a fact that did not go unnoticed by his fellow candidates.

“You need a board that is around, that is here, that is easily accessible,” said incumbent Broberg when describing the time commitment the position requires. “Board work goes on daily.”

The four candidates are competing for two seats.

Among the questions posed by the audience was how each candidate proposed to better engage local families whose children have already passed through the school system. Multari and Koeppen both said that the district is currently falling down on the job on that front.

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“We have families who graduate who have been integral parts of our school communities for upwards of 20 years and then we kind of let them go,” Multari said. “I think we do have a tremendous resource in these alumni families.”

Koeppen advocated using college-style recruitment and marketing tactics to keep families engaged with the school district after their children have graduated. The technology entrepreneur also said that if elected he would fight what he described as a “death-by-1,000-slashes” approach to budgeting, or trying to plug financial holes with $100 checks from community members.

“I would like to see us take a five-year plan view as opposed to a six- to 12-month plan view, come up with a number we are really going to have to deal with, and as uncomfortable as it is going to be, deal with that number,” Koeppen said.

The district cannot expect any sort of turnaround in the state’s funding of education in the near future, Multari echoed. Instead, the board needs to go to the community and explore what combination of program reduction and increased financial giving they are comfortable with supporting, she added.

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