4 vie for 3 seats on Sunnyside board; tough budget choices the central issue

2012-10-12T00:00:00Z 2014-09-04T13:56:12Z 4 vie for 3 seats on Sunnyside board; tough budget choices the central issueCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 12, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Two incumbents are seeking to keep their seats on the Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board in a race that has four candidates vying for three seats.

One of those seats is vacant, since former board president Magdalena Barajas resigned in June to attend New York University to pursue graduate studies.

Buck Crouch, the current board president, was appointed in August 2011 to fill the seat left vacant by Robert Jaramillo, who resigned to teach at Desert View High School.

Besides Crouch, the other incumbent is Louie Gonzales, who was appointed to the board in 2007 and elected in 2008. He previously served from 1990 to 1996.

Newcomers Robert "Bobby" Garcia, a retired Tucson Police Department officer, and Malcom R. Pavey, a self-employed academic assessor and tutor, are campaigning for a seat.

The top three vote-getters in the Nov. 6 election will be seated on the board.

The district is also asking voters to approve a 15 percent maintenance and operations budget override.

During the past four years, the maintenance and operations budget has been cut by more than $13 million, said Hector M. Encinas, the district's chief financial officer. Eighty-five percent of this budget goes for employees' pay and benefits.

Last year, voters approved an $88 million bond issue for the district, but turned down a 10 percent maintenance and operations budget override. If the override is not approved, Encinas predicts staff and program cuts.

The district's budget is $143.7 million and at the start of the school year it had 17,311 students. It has 22 schools and 2,145 employees.

Following are the candidates' views on what each sees as the top issue facing the district:

• Crouch said state cuts in education are hurting students and society. He said he supports the budget override and that if it fails the district faces "deep cuts" in programs.

• Gonzales said the district needs to graduate students who are prepared for unlimited choices. He said he favors early-childhood education, laptops for all students and increasing graduation rates.

• Pavey said the board needs to make "tough, frugal, conscious and prudent decisions" on the budget to "best meet the needs of the students," including preparing graduates for college or the workforce.

• Garcia said the board needs to get a better handle on the budget and improve employees' benefits and salaries.

On Starnet

Visit azstarnet.com/elections to find more coverage and election resources, including:

• Which federal, state, county and school board seats are up for grabs in this election cycle.

• Candidates: bio info and answers to the Star's candidate questionnaire.

• Information about the ballot propositions.

• Voter resources: maps of the redrawn legislative and congressional districts; where to vote.

• Links to recent coverage of local, state and national politics.

• Fun election-themed interactives.

• Updated vote totals on election night.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@azstarnet.com or 573-4104.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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