Four vie for coveted board of trustees spots

Four familiar faces say they are ready for the host of issues and history of difficult intraboard relations that have plagued the San Bruno Park School District Board of Trustees.

Two positions are open this year. Kevin Martinez — appointed last year to replace Chuck Zelnick, who made a surprisereturn this year after stepping down for personal reasons — said he’s ready for more. Fellow incumbent Christopher Kiely is seeking a third term. Parent and school volunteer Jennifer Blanco, who is taking a third stab at a board position, is also in the running.

News leaked out last month that Kiely owed the district more than $10,000 in back medical benefit payments. It is the most recent issue to polarize the board, which has often bickered over past issues such as a possible Wal-Mart on a former school site. While the infighting has made for difficult and lengthy board meetings, Martinez said the board ultimately takes care of business, noting a surprising lack of 3-2 or 4-1 votes.

“There are personality clashes on the board,” Martinez said. “I hope I can be a steadying force.”

Kiely agreed, saying that despite lengthy board meetings that could be wrapped up much sooner than they currently are, votes are ultimately cast and the district is put on course.

“I don’t expect the scuffling to go away,” said Kiely, who has been especially vocal about his political rifts with fellow trustee William “Skip” Henderson. “The approach I’m going to take is to go to meetings and just move on with business.”

Declining enrollment has been a concern among district officials for five years, when enrollment first started to dip, Superintendent David Hutt said. Ways to combat that include sharing administrative services with other districts, or, though most are hesitant to go this route, close one of the district’s seven elementary schools, Martinez said.

A parcel tax might be the best way to go to address the enrollment and funding issues, Kiely said.

Many of the district’s major issues can be addressed by resolving the issue of school configuration, Zelnick said. The district has been flirting with the idea of reconfiguring the grade levels at some of its schools, possibly creating a K-8school.

Blanco, however, says the sour image the board has does not need to continue. She contends the board is disconnected with the public and she aims to bridge that gap.

Jennifer Blanco

» Age: 36

» Occupation: Bankruptcy administrator

» Time in San Bruno: 34 years

» Board experience: None

» Children: Four

Christopher Kiely

» Age: 49

» Occupation: Current board member

» Time in San Bruno: City native, returned in 1992

» Board experience: Eight years

» Children: Four

Kevin Martinez

» Age: 46

» Occupation: Systems engineer

» Time in San Bruno: 18 years

» Board experience: One year

» Children: Two

Charles ‘Chuck’ Zelnick

» Age: 50

» Occupation: Community volunteer, handyman

» Time in San Bruno: 22 years

» Board experience: 5 years

» Children: Two

tramroop@examiner.com

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