SAN RAMON VALLEY -- Three candidates are vying for two open seats on the school board of a district that is growing as more families move in -- attracted to San Ramon Valley's great schools that have some of the highest test scores in the state.
But the district is also facing a deteriorating budget picture.
Board President Greg Marvel, who has served as a trustee since 2000, is hoping voters return him to his seat. Certified public accountant Mark Jewett and retired businessman Dwight Winn Sr. are the challengers.
Since 12-year board member Paul Gardner decided not to run, at least one of the newcomers will join the board in January.
The candidates who win in November are going to have their hands full next year if voters reject Propositions 30 and 38, which seek to raise taxes for school funding.
The state has taken away $100 million from the district since the 2007-08 school year, and the district has been running budget deficits since. It has avoided layoffs and program cuts by relying on a hefty reserve fund built up in better times.
If the propositions fail, the district's reserve fund will be depleted in the 2013-14 school year, school officials say, meaning tough decisions will have to be made on increasing class sizes, cutting music, arts and sports programs, cutting benefits for teachers and staff and layoffs.
Even if the propositions succeed, the district will burn through its reserves around the 2014-15 school year if the economy doesn't turn around markedly.
All three school board candidates are fiscal conservatives who expect to make tough decisions if elected to the board. All three support Measure D, a $260 million school facilities bond measure that will fund school modernization projects and upgrades to technology infrastructure.
"What I bring to the table is 30 years of having to manage budgets," said Marvel, a retired vice chancellor of Contra Costa Community Colleges who now runs an education consulting business. "It's going to be a tough row to hoe if Prop. 30 doesn't pass, but this board will balance the budget while maintaining the quality of our schools to the best of our ability."
Jewett, who attended San Ramon Valley schools and who has two children attending Greenbrook Elementary, said he is the only candidate with a long-term vested interest in the district. He also said his finance and accounting experience will be useful in times like these.
"Using my background, I'm hoping to provide in plain language an explanation about the complex web of public school financing to build trust amongst all the key stakeholder groups of our district," he said.
Winn's two grown sons graduated from San Ramon Valley High School and he has coached youth sports in the area.
"I have a passion for wanting to be a volunteer," he said.
Winn served as an officer in the Army National Guard and said his business management experience at IBM and NUMMI have given him the organizational skills to tackle tough problems.
"You cannot sustain this current model," he said. "You have to think about where you want to be and then how you can get there. It's complicated, it's complex, and it's going to take some thinking power."
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.
Occupation: Certified public accountant
Civic involvement: Measure C Parcel Tax Oversight Committee; finance subcommittee member; auditor for the Greenbrook Elementary EAGLE Fund; member of the Sheriff's Posse of Contra Costa County
Education: B.A. in quantitative economics and decision sciences, UC San Diego; M.A. in professional accounting, San Diego State; M.A. in business taxation, USC
Occupation: Retired vice chancellor Contra Costa Community Colleges; runs an education consulting business
Civic involvement: San Ramon Valley Unified School District board of education president; volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and the Danville Community Band
Education: B.A. in public administration; M.A. in human resources/organization development, USF
DWIGHT WINN SR.
Occupation: Retired businessman, sales; management, consulting at project management at IBM; quality control and project management at NUMMI
Civic involvement: Danville Parks and Leisure Services Committee; Christian Academy school board member
Education: B.S. in education, Shaw University
CANDIDATE FORUM on TV
San Ramon Valley school board candidates round table will be broadcast on Channel 27 at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7; 9 p.m. on Oct. 14; 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21; 9 p.m. on Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 30; and 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4.
The round table can also be viewed online at ContraCostaTimes.com.