Monday Morning Thoughts: New School Board Takes Shape, And the Week Ahead

Tom Adams and Barbara Archer were elected to the school board on Tuesday
Tom Adams and Barbara Archer were elected to the school board on Tuesday

Last week we saw the election of three new school board members: Madhavi Sunder, Barbara Archer and Tom Adams. Coupled with the May appointment and October re-appointment of Alan Fernandes, 80 percent of this school board was not in place in March when Nancy Peterson resigned. Only Susan Lovenburg remains from that board.

As we have stated before, the outgoing school board should be commended for guiding the district through very difficult times. Tim Taylor, Gina Daleiden and Sheila Allen were all elected in the fall of 2005. They came in at a tumultuous time, as well, as the District was then beset by a series of scandals emanating from the business office and Tahir Ahad.

They helped clean up that scandal and guide the district through budgetary crisis. Under their watch, the district was forced to lay off teachers and cut back on administration, and they passed five parcel taxes.

However, nine years of service is a long time for a group of three people to be on a single body, and even people who have a very strong favorable view of the three agree that, over time, they got a little worn out and stale.

The Nancy Peterson crisis this spring was a wake up call to the community and I think the new blood on the board will ultimately serve the community and the schools well.

We had a full profile of Madhavi Sunder last week. I have known Barbara Archer for some time and I spent a good amount of time with her this fall. She brings to the board a huge strength, in the experience that is otherwise going to be lacking with such a high turnover. She is well familiar with the schools, with the district finances, and she understands, probably better than most in the community who are not working in the district or on the board, how things work.

At the same time, she is not going to be a voice for the status quo and most certainly she is not going to be quiet. She will ask tough questions and she will be relentless.

In contrast, I know Tom Adams the least, personally. To be honest, at times I did not know what to think of him, but over the last month or so, I got to know him a bit more.  I think while he’s more quiet, he seems like a very caring and decent person.

Alan Fernandes has been on the board already for half a year. In that time, he has shown that he is also going to ask some tough questions and push for change.

Bottom line here, we will have to see how the board dynamics work. But I think this has the potential to be a good board with a mix of experiences and a very different perspective and world view from the previous board.

The Vanguard will continue to push very hard on issues like campus climate, the achievement gap and school nutrition, and make sure that Title I and lower achieving students have access to programs that can help address their needs, in addition to the district’s funding of needs for high achieving students.

Week Ahead

This week will feature two interesting series. The first one started today, the impact of Prop 47 on the justice system. The other one we have foreshadowed for a few days now. See today’s fire report from September and look in particular at the training data, as well as the downward shift in what the chief calls “move and cover assignments” where basically, before boundary drop and decoupling, stations regularly had personnel and equipment moving to the central fire station and leaving their areas uncovered.

Since the implementation of boundary drop, that is occurring less than five times per month and per station. That is a strong signal that the new system is working, but, as we will show, the entire system is under massive fire.

Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Saturday

On Saturday we will hold our annual dinner and awards ceremony. This is one of two major fundraisers we hold in a year, the other being the July 30 Vanguard Birthday Celebration. While the proceeds to this help run the Court Watch Program, they also go to help with operational costs, which have greatly increased this year, and not just because we have essentially built two websites in a ten-month period.

Why should you attend – or if you cannot attend, donate?

First, it will be a really interesting program. We have keynote speaker Scott Sanders. We profiled him last week (read here). We will also have a panel discussion that features Mr. Sanders along with David Angel, Deputy D.A. Santa Clara County, Director of Conviction Integrity Unity; Prof. Deborah Davis, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno; Attorney Todd Leras, former candidate for Sacramento County D.A.; and Prof. Gabriel “Jack” Chin, Professor of Law, University of California, Davis.

Prosecutorial misconduct is a hot topic these days, and a critical issue facing our community.

Second, the Vanguard Court Watch program is a very unique and innovative program. We have talked to people from Solano and Sacramento County who would like to see it come to their county. I sat down with San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi last spring and he would love to see it come to San Francisco. Future possibilities, for sure, but in order to expand, we have to make it viable here in Yolo County.

Third, as we said, while the main focus is on the court watch program, proceeds help with the overall operational expense of the Vanguard, which has been increasing.

Bottom line: if you are free on Saturday, please purchase your tickets and see what this is all about. If you can’t, please consider donating to help the Vanguard and the Court Watch program meet its financial needs.

To purchase tickets hit the link:

—David M. Greenwald

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. DavisVoter

    “To be honest, at times I did not know what to think of him, but over the last month or so, I think while he’s more quiet, he seems like a very caring and decent person. He will be an interesting counter-balance to Madhavi Sunder and Barbara Archer in that respect.”

    I’m pretty sure this came out wrong …

  2. Davis Progressive

    i know this is about playing nice, but i have real concerns that we don’t know what we’re getting with tom adams.  his answers were brief and often didn’t answer the question.  barbara has been around and is probably a known quantity.  everyone was drawn to the energy of sunder. we’ve seen warnings, but she campaigned well.

  3. ryankelly

    I don’t have any concerns regarding Tom Adams.  He is well known in the community – a member of a very long-term Davis family.  He is knowledgeable, thoughtful, educated and cares deeply about kids and the education that they are getting.   He is not a polished politician with slick answers, but very familiar with the issues – more along the lines of a Brett Lee on the City Council.

  4. wdf1

    The current school board trustees basically picked all the eventual winners of the incoming board back in May of this year, when they were deciding Peterson’s replacement.  Fernandes was eventually selected, but the next three runners up were Archer, Sunder, and Adams.

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