BRENTWOOD -- An incumbent, a former planning commissioner and a Youth Commission adviser and coach are all vying for two seats on the Brentwood Union School District board in the November election.
The Brentwood school board race appears to be a quiet one so far, since the district maintains a good reputation for student achievement, parental involvement, and quality educational programs and services. Incumbent Carlos Sanabria is running for his third term, while incumbent Lori Strauss has decided not to run for another term.
Former Brentwood planning commissioner and City Council candidate Jim Cushing and Brentwood Youth Commission adviser and local coach Vincent Kraeber are both parents with kids in the school district and newcomers in the race.
Sanabria, 54, said he is running again to continue with goals the district has been working to accomplish in the last four years but has had a difficult time with because of budget cuts. He said the current school board has been fiscally prudent and has been waiting for educational reform in the public school system.
"We have very spirited discussions to get to the root of things," Sanabria said. "We have to make every decision count."
Sanabria said the district has been asking for more from its teachers and parents and has postponed larger cutbacks. Born and raised in Brentwood, he has worked for the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District for 31 years.
Cushing, who has a son at Krey Elementary, remains active in the schools as a volunteer. He sat on the Brentwood Planning Commission for four years and ran unsuccessfully for Brentwood City Council in 2010.
"For the majority of our children, their education is the cornerstone for realizing their future and the lives of their own families. We owe it to each of them to ensure that the moneys we spend in pursuit of their education support excellence," Cushing said.
Although Cushing now works with technology companies, the 64-year-old holds a master's degree from Stanford University in early childhood development and created an infant/toddler program on campus. He also taught kindergarten in San Ramon and holds a California K-8 teaching credential.
"Comparing ourselves to other less fortunate communities is not a goal," he said. "We have a good young educational foundation that can become great."
As a volunteer in his son's class at Pioneer Elementary School, Kraeber said he is impressed with the dedicated parents and teachers. The 53-year-old retiree helps out with technology issues at his wife's downtown law firm.
"What makes the district so good is the involved parents. They make sure their kids get involved, and it is important to keep that continuity," Kraeber said. "There is a cloud of financial uncertainty over our schools, and I want to do what I can to keep the resources, facilities and people we have."
Kraeber also has two other children. One is a Heritage High School graduate and another is a current Heritage student.
"Anything I can do to help them, I'm going to do to ensure that they have a better life," he said.