News

High school district candidates discuss issues in town hall meeting

By Morgn McLaughin
La Habra Journal

Fullerton Joint Union High School District governing board member candidate, said last Thursday at the FJUHSD candidate forum that was hosted by the North Orange County League of Women Voters.

Nearly 20 people were in attendance for the forum at the District Offices in Fullerton. Najera, and the other four candidates, answered questions about why they should be elected to one of the two seats available on the district’s board coming this next election season.

“None of these members live there as far as I know; my kids go to La Habra High School, I have friends and family in both La Habra and La Habra Heights, I understand the culture,” said James Najera, regarding the perspective of La Habra and its two high schools in the district.

Najera has been a resident of La Habra Heights for 20 years, a substitute teacher in the elementary school district and is currently a Lowell Joint School District (La Habra) Board of Trustee. If elected this November to be a governing board member for the FJUHSD, he would be the first person from the La Habra area to ever sit on the board. When asked what it would mean for the 90631 area if he were elected Najera was absolute, “Representation.”
“I feel our campuses need more of an overhaul and with me they’ll have a voice,” he added.

The evening gave an opportunity for the two incumbents, Bill Dunton and Barbara Kilponen, and the two candidates, Andy Montoya and Najera, to field questions from concerned citizens about class size, student performance, and the governor’s tax proposal that if not passed will cause the school district to cut more from the budget.
Montoya, a teacher at Ladera Vista Junior High in Fullerton, was unable to attend due to an open house he had to be present for.

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The statement read for him at the forum let the attendees know that he wants to “bring true 21st Century skills to the district.” In holding alumni forums with past students, he has been able to find out what the students wish had been different in their high school experience.

Dunton is running his campaign on the slogan “to do what’s best for kids.” The long-time music teacher at La Habra High School wants voters to know that his more than 20 years of service on the board provides experience and proves he is capable of addressing the hard issues and that he feels that his sound financial management and his work with incorporating community services is what makes him a good choice in the voting booth.

Kilponen repeatedly emphasized her ability to commit to the “24/7 decision of responsibility” that comes with being a board member for the FJUHSD. “I’m available to attend meetings, serving our community … I can be counted on to do what I say,” she said in her opening statement

Throughout the evening, Najera was specific in mentioning his points of what he would do if elected.

“I see teachers are burdened with unrealistic student expectations,” he said in his opening statement. “I will not vote to raise class size, will responsibly manage finances, encourage the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education curriculum and focus on programs encouraging students for after high school.”

He also made sure to tell the audience about his concern for the performance gap of students when it comes to the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) scores.

La Habra and La Habra Heights has a chance at being represented on the High School District board this November and Najera wants everyone to know that “there is a better way to manage our taxpayers’ entrusted resources other than spending more than we are given, laying off teachers, increasing class sizes and reducing our students’ school year.”

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Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.