By Ashley Archibald / Special to The Malibu Times
The local school district race just got interesting.
Three education advocates from Malibu have thrown their hats in the ring, challenging the three incumbents for their spots on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education.
Craig Foster, Seth Jacobson and Karen Farrer pulled papers on Wednesday of last week in what is now a seven-member school board race.
If all seven get the 100 signatures required to qualify for the November ballot by Aug. 10, the three Malibu residents will face off against incumbent boardmembers Jose Escarce, Maria Leon-Vazquez and board president Ben Allen, as well as Jake Wachtel, who also ran in 2010.
Malibu has not had a representative on the board since Kathy Wisnicki served from 2004 to 2008. Wisnicki chose not to seek re-election in 2008, leaving the city without representation for the first time in 30 years.
All three Malibu candidates belong to Advocates for Malibu Public Schools, or AMPS, a group that has long pushed for Malibu to separate and form its own school district.
Although they believe their candidacy could solve Malibu’s long-standing complaint regarding a lack of representation on the Board of Education, the Malibu candidates will strive to represent the interests of all students in the schools, they said.
“People want their kids to get the best education they possibly can,” Foster said. “There’s a strong sense in the district that our cities deserve a really high level of public education and that while we have a high level of public education, we’re nowhere near the potential or level that we deserve as a combined community.”
The three are running as a team on what they call the “reform slate,” a common platform that emphasizes student achievement, reduced classroom size, closing the achievement gap among district demographic groups and working with the teachers’ union to put in place best practices.
They plan to fund this by cutting down on the cost of administration and by creating an independent Malibu School District, which staff believes would redirect Santa Monica funds back to a sole Santa Monica district.
“We’re running on a platform to put ourselves out of work,” Jacobson said.
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