ELECTION 2022: Four candidates face off for two seats on LUSD board

Lindsay Unified School District has two seats up for grabs, with two incumbents hoping to snag their spot on the board once again

LINDSAY – Four candidates have placed their names on the ballot for this year’s school board elections, with both challengers drawing on their careers as educators.

Election time is just around the corner, and Lindsay Unified School District has four candidates on the ballot this year, but only two of them will have a seat on the board. There are two incumbents running, one of which has over 20 years of experience on the board. The challengers also all have years of education experience under their belt, with one challenger, Dennis Doane, being the former principal of John J. Cairns Continuation High School, while the other challenger, Brenda Gonzalez, was a teacher for 10 years and a religious educator for 20.

District 1 incumbent Anthony Vaghn Blue will be running against Gonzalez. Blue has been on the school board for roughly 24 years, and has watched the district go through so many changes. He emphasized the positive work that has been done by the board in recent years, including getting students back to in-person learning after the COVID-19 pandemic. Though there is still room to grow, Blue said the district is working hard to better students and appreciate teachers.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the 24 years that I’ve been on the board. There are a lot of facilities, a lot of programs and the whole performance-based system has come into effect during my time,” Blue said. “When I make a commitment, I fully go into that commitment. I think that that can be shown by the fact that in those 24 years, I’ve missed [about] five board meetings.”

Blue also prides Lindsay in treating the teachers well, keeping their pay in the county’s top pay scale. They not only provide benefits and pay to teachers, but also want to give them opportunities for advancement of their own professional learning through the Pipeline Program

Gonzalez was a teacher for over 10 years and last served at Roosevelt Elementary, and prior to that had over 20 years of experience in religious education at the Sacred Heart Church. Gonzalez was not interviewed by the Sun Gazette and she did not respond by press time, but did state on her campaign page that she hopes to put students first and continue creating an environment they can learn in.

“The purpose of my campaign is to provide a voice and further educate all educational partners in the community to create safe learning environments, where everyone can share their unique gifts, for the wellbeing and growth of all Lindsay’s students,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

Gonzalez also said she hopes to bring honest and open communication to the public. She believes this can be achieved through “respect and integrity,” of the board. 

“I will work closely with families, learners, elected board members, and all school personnel to ensure that the decisions in our education system reflect the well-being of our community,” Gonzalez said.

In District 5, incumbent Alex Ray Flores will be running against Doane. Flores was part of the school district’s decision to hire 17 new teachers and 21 teacher aides. He values communication and hopes to continue making a bridge of transparency.  He hopes to encourage communication between teachers, parents, administration and students, and to ensure all people have a voice.

“We have to put learning, our kids and our students first,” Flores said. “That’s who most of the decisions that I’ve made, and have went through with the school board, have always been the main focus of. It’s what’s best for our learners, and then what’s best for the district.”

Flores realized after attending a teachers association meeting, that one of the main goals he has during reelection is to allow teachers to voice their concerns. He saw that the need for communication between teachers and the board could be improved. 

“[My priority] would have to be the communication, to hear [teachers] concerns, and then [for them to] be able to voice their concerns without any kind worry of anything happening, but us being able to take care of them, so that they can continue to do their job at the utmost highest level without any problems,” Flores said.

Doane has 20 years of experience in public education, including 17 years with LUSD, where he began as a substitute teacher and worked his way to principal of JJ Cairns Continuation High School and Lindsay Community Day School. Before he left Lindsay, he was overseeing four alternative education sites including Loma Vista Charter School and Lindsay Adult School.

Doane is proud of his accomplishments while working in the district including a two-day per week internship program in career’s students showed an interest, helped all four alt ed sites become accredited, and maintained an attendance rate of more than 95% at the high school, something he has been able to do at his current job as principal of Butterfield Charter School, an alternative education site in the Porterville Unified School District.

“I believe I will bring the energy, a solution minded approach and years of experience to the Board,” Doane said. “I know Lindsay’s Performance Based System very well as I was a part of its formation and implementation from the ground level.”

Doane said his main focus in running for school board is to help bridge the divide between the district office and the Lindsay Teachers Association, which gave him their endorsement. He described the issues as “too much drama” and pledged to bring an understanding from his experience as both a classroom teacher and site administrator.

“The communication between the two groups needs a lot of help and someone to bring open and transparent communication,” Doane said. “Our learners deserve the very best education and we need to ensure that they are ready for life after high school.”

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