Daly City school board shaken up by early parting

Just 12 days after he announced he would not seek a second four-year term on the Jefferson Elementary School District board, Anthony Dennis abruptly resigned from the board at Wednesday’s meeting, citing his wishes to spend more time with his four-year-old son.

Dennis, 34, is the second high-ranking district official to resign in the last three months after Superintendent Barbara Wilson stepped down in June. Wilson left to become the superintendent for the Pittsburg Unified School District in the East Bay.

Dennis’ seat on the board will remain vacant until December, when the winners from the Nov. 6 election take their seats.

Until then, the board will have four members, opening the possibility that the board will deadlock on issues and potentially delay decisions.

With two seats now up for election, Dennis’ decision not to run guarantees the board will see at least one new face. Incumbent Annette Hipona, 44, is running against preschool teacher Adam Duran, 33, realtor Hitomi Benedetti, 37, and design engineer John Trawinski, 43.

A combination of factors figured into his decision to resign, most notably his desire to spend more time with his son, Dennis said. He also said the home he rents was sold recently and he needed to find a new place by Sept. 1. He has since found a new house in San Bruno.

He also expressed a desire to cut down on his commute to his job in San Mateo-Foster City School District as a behavioral therapist with special education students.

“After last night, I feel happy leaving the district in the position it’s in right now,” Dennis said, referring to the new contract for teachers and leasing contracts for the district’s surplus property.

The recently released 2007 Standardized Testing and Reporting test scores showed solid improvement over 2006 throughout the district.

Even before the recent resignations, Melinda Dart, co-president of the Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers, said she felt “very positive about the district for the first time in a long time because we were able to get a small raise for employees” last spring.

Employees received a 3 percent raise and $50 more toward monthly health care benefits.

“The new board has been able to achieve bringing in new revenue for the district, and part of that is due to Anthony Dennis’ efforts,” Dart said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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