No matter how things shake out Nov. 2, the Orinda Union School District will have a bevy of new faces on its governing board.
The incumbents whose terms are expiring -- Jack Bontemps, Riki Sorenson and Pam West -- are not seeking re-election. Five candidates are vying for those three open seats.
The big issue that will greet the newcomers, however, is familiar. While the district has been kept afloat by a parcel tax and generous community donations, officials know more school funding cuts could be coming.
In separate interviews with the Sun, the candidates -- who all have children in district schools -- talked about how to deal with the financial challenges facing the district.
"The main priority (for the board) is always figuring out how to provide the students with the best possible education, and the biggest challenge to achieving that is always the budget," said Julie Rossiter, Del Rey Elementary's legislative representative to the Las Trampas Creek Council.
All options for balancing the district budget must be on the table, she said, and the district needs to reach out to parents, teachers, staff and the greater community to find out what their priorities are.
Sarah Butler, who has served on the School Site Council at Glorietta and Orinda Intermediate, agreed.
"The key is having a good community process about it to get feedback from all stakeholders," said Butler, who added it is important for the district to maintain small class sizes and quality teachers.
The candidates agreed that if cuts must come, they should be kept as far away from the classroom as possible.
"With every decision that comes down the pipeline, you have to choose the lesser of the two evils, do what impacts the kids least," said Christopher Severson, an emergency room doctor.
He said the district should see whether administrative costs can be cut back further, and if some maintenance and repair projects can be put off until more money is available.
Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert, who has volunteered at Wagner Ranch Elementary in a number of capacities, said the district could raise money by renting out sports fields or unoccupied classroom buildings.
But the district must first make sure it is operating as efficiently as possible and then be more open and responsive to people who want to get involved or learn about district finances, she said.
"I think parents will be much more inclined to give at generous levels if they feel they have a say in how it's being spent," Van Voorhis-Gilbert said.
Tyson Krumholz, a professional engineer, agreed there are people ready to give time and money to the district if the district is willing to engage with them. But when it comes to balancing the budget, he said he prefers the concept of "trimming" programs rather than cutting them altogether, so that the impact is not felt by just one segment of the student population.
"This community's highly motivated," he said. "There's a lot of really intelligent people and a lot of people who give a lot. It's really easy to tap into that if you invite them all often to the table."
Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Read the Lamorinda Sun blog at www.ibabuzz.com/lamorindasun.