BERKELEY -- Alameda County's associate superintendent of education, Karen Monroe, will battle Helen Foster, the human resources director of the Hayward school district, for superintendent of the county office of education in the November election.

The two got the most votes out of five candidates in the June 3 primary. Because neither got more than 50 percent, they proceed to the general election.

The office they are running for oversees budgets of all the school districts in Alameda County, educates students in juvenile hall and those who are not in regular schools because of discipline or academic problems and offers continuing education for some teachers, among other duties.

Monroe was far ahead of Foster with about 54,200 votes, or 34 percent in the primary. Foster got about 35,000 votes or 22 percent.

Monroe said she learned during the election that her office is relatively obscure in the minds of voters and even in the education world there are perceptions she'd like to change. The notion that the office does not offer as much training or support to Alameda County school districts and teachers as it should is one thing that was hard for her to hear during the race.

"If my opponents are to be believed there is a perception that we are not far reaching, that we are not serving the communities or districts in viable ways," Monroe said. "That was challenging for me to hear because in the last two years we've really made some inroads and my thought was, 'Why don't people know this?' We need to figure out how we are communicating more broadly."


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Foster was out of the country and not available for comment for this story.

If she wins in November, Monroe would see her $185,000 a year salary drop to $150,000. That's because the county school board lowered the salary of the superintendent about six weeks before the election. Sheila Jordan, the current superintendent who is stepping down after 16 years, earns $222,000 a year.

"I would be lying to you if I felt (the board's action to lower the salary) was great," Monroe said. "I intend to come in and partner closely with our board. We are going to have a discussion about what the value of my experience is and come to an agreement."

Monroe said she spent about $95,000 on the June 3 election and may have to spend an extra $150,000 to win in November.

Contact Doug Oakley at 925-234-1699. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/douglasoakley.