Nine candidates compete for three seats on SFUSD Board of Education

November's election is an important one for the San Francisco Unified School District.

Among the long list of measures that will go before voters is the widely supported Proposition C, which in part extends funding for the Public Education Enrichment Fund that provides millions of dollars to public school programs.

And three seats are up for grabs on the district's seven-member Board of Education, with nine candidates including two incumbents on the ballot.

Seeking re-election are Emily Murase, the board's current vice president and first Japanese-American to serve on the board when she was elected in 2010, and Hydra Mendoza, the senior adviser on education and family services to Mayor Ed Lee and first Filipina voted into public office in The City in 2006.

Their challengers are Stevon Cook, Lee Hsu, Trevor McNeil, Mark Murphy, Shamann Walton, Jamie Rafaela Wolfe and Dennis Yang. Board member Kim-Shree Maufas is not seeking re-election.

Murase and Mendoza won the support of notable local elected officials, including various colleagues on the board, but were not endorsed by the United Educators of San Francisco teachers union.

Amid ongoing contract negotiations between SFUSD and UESF, which potentially could lead to a strike, union leaders have favored candidates Cook, a senior coordinator with the San Francisco Education Fund, and Walton, executive director of Young Community Developers Inc., who would provide “authentic new voices for the board,” said Ken Tray, the union's political director.

“They both went to San Francisco public schools and understand the importance of stable school communities, particularly for low-income students,” UESF spokesman Matthew Hardy said of Cook and Walton. “That's a voice that needs to be heard.”

Board candidates also include several educators. McNeil teaches with the San Mateo-Foster City School District and Yang with the Bay School of San Francisco. Wolfe is a school administrator in The City and vice president of TransGender San Francisco. Murphy, co-chair of the Public Education Enrichment Fund, is married to a San Francisco elementary school teacher.

And Hsu, a public school parent, works at San Francisco-based GemShare.

One of the biggest issues facing the board in the next four years – the length of a term – is the new Common Core State Standards, which rolled out to the district's math curriculum this school year after being implemented in English/Language Arts instruction last year, said Sandra Fewer, the board's president.

Other recent changes within SFUSD include the Local Control Funding Formula, which gives school districts more flexibility to address specific academic priorities, and the new Smarter Balanced Assessment system that replaces the Standardized Testing and Reporting program, Fewer said.

“I think that any candidate that wins will bring and add something to the board,” she said. “I just hope that they understand the commitment that it involves. It's attending many meetings, but it's also doing the homework and coming prepared to make every vote.”

Board of Education members are paid $500 per month.

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