At a special meeting this Monday night, September 16, the Carlsbad Unified School Board will choose one of eleven candidates for a provisional appointment, to serve until the November 2014 general election. The position became open following the recent resignation of board member Kelli Moors. The board chose to appoint someone, rather than hold a special election that would have cost taxpayers an estimated $379 to $384 thousand.

As someone with 30 years of university administrative experience hiring staff who I hoped would be productive members of my management team, I couldn't resist reading the applications of those applying for this position. They were posted on the school district's website as public information. I also couldn't resist rating the candidates, even without being in on the interviews, which I think are often greatly overrated as a selection criterion, a lesson I once learned the hard way.

Here's how I broke them down, in alphabetical order within these categories:


Steve Barker: (Business experience, Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, recommended by previous superintendent, teacher of the year and three principals.)

Claudine Jones: (Exceptional knowledge of and volunteer experience with issues facing the district.)

Nicole Pappas: (Previous member of the board for 12 years and vows not to be a candidate for permanent position. Which means she'll be more interested in doing than campaigning.)

Kymberly Szalkiewics: (Former special ed. teacher, now full-time volunteer with exceptional knowledge of issues and volunteer involvement in schools.)


Ray Pearson: (Demonstrates far less knowledge and experience with the issues than the SAFE BETS above.)

Kelly Schafer: (Less involvement in schools as above candidates, questionable support of Common Core State Standards.)


Sherman DeForest: (University professor and businessman with no evidence of understanding or involvement in local schools issues.)

Sage Naumann: (An 18 year-old with strong opinions and endorsement from county GOP officials, but attendance at board meetings his only experience. Opposes Common Core.)

Gilbert Soto: (Family goes back to 20's in C'bad, wants to support community, no relevant experience.)

David Van Der Linden: (He and his wife own 11 women's clothing stores, one in C'bad. No relevant experience with local schools.)

Thomas W. Wachter: (Pharmacist, with children and grandchildren who went through C'bad schools.)

Let's hope the current board members go with a safe bet. There's too much happening in our schools to risk adding someone with an agenda or with the need for a lengthy learning curve.

Contact me at [email protected]

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