OAKLEY -- A challenger and two incumbents are vying for the right to return to the board of Oakley Union Elementary School District, where two seats are up for election.

Larry Polk, whose three children graduated from the district and who used to work for it as an accountant, is running for a second term.

His familiarity with school budgets enables him to hone fairly quickly in on expenses that seem excessive as well as recognize when they're reasonable, said Polk, 57, although he added that he also knows when to step away and allow the professionals do their jobs.

The years he spent working for school districts also gave him a good understanding of how other facets of education administration operate, he added.

Polk, an Air Force reservist who now works on military jets at Travis Air Force Base, wants the board to do what it can to ensure that test scores continue improving and to minimize layoffs.

In general, though, he's content with the status quo: Employees understand the district's budget constraints, and the board has a good relationship with administrators as well as both unions, Polk said.

"I don't see anything really wrong ... and if there's something major we would know about it," he said.

Polk's only goal for the next term is a general one: "I want to make sure that whatever I do that the district is still going forward positively," he said.

Karen Bergenholtz, 50, hopes voters will send her back for a fourth term, saying she "just wants to good for them."

The mother of two children who went through the district and a former PTA president, she said she's been on the board so long that she's personally vested in the job and considers her longevity a selling point.

Bergenholtz, an account manager for an insurance company, is proudest of the part she had in converting the district's year-round school schedule to one that runs from August to June with a couple of two-week breaks.

The change was important to her because the previous calendar included more breaks, which is difficult for students who have trouble regaining momentum in their studies following a hiatus. If re-elected, she said her top priority is to reduce class sizes.

Bergenholtz was unsure where she would have Oakley Union Elementary cut first -- or last -- if budget reductions become necessary, saying only that she would try to target those areas that have the least effect on the classroom.

For now, however, the district is on solid financial footing, she said.

One name that isn't on the ballot is that of Art Fernandez, who is running unopposed to complete the two years remaining on the seat from which current Oakley Union Elementary candidate Andrew Coffman resigned in January 2011.

Because he is uncontested, Fernandez will be appointed to serve until 2014.

Coffman, who was elected in November 2010, never attended any board meetings and, since filing papers again in August, remains a no-show. He resigned in early 2011 because of work schedule conflicts. He did not return calls seeking comment.

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