San Bruno board hopefuls to square off

Four candidates will face off tonight to hash out the issues facing the San Bruno Park School District, which has not seen much of a change in its governing board over the last several years.

Two spots on the district board are up for grabs this year, with incumbents Christopher Kiely and Kevin Martinez going up against Jennifer Blanco and Charles Zelnick, who left the board last year.

Martinez, who said his top priorities are to improve ties between the district and the city for after-school programs, is running for a permanent spot to fill the one he was appointed to after Zelnick left in 2006.

A number of hot-button issues are facing the board this time around, as the district considers closing one of its seven elementary schools — the result of a decline in enrollment that officials are optimistic might be jumping back up — and mulls over the capital priorities for the $30 million sale of the former Carl Sandburg School site to a developer.

Superintendent David Hutt said the ideal candidate will recognize that the district has to roll with the punches when it comes to changes in enrollment, whether the numbers increase or decrease. Sometime this month, not long before the election, the district is scheduled to review local birth rates and determine whether to move forward with school closure, Hutt said.

Board members have been known to have a contentious relationship for several years — culminating in such actions as a code-of-conduct plan and arguments over whether a Wal-Mart should be built on former school property. Though the most recent news — that Kiely owed the district more than $10,000 in back medical benefit payments — polarized the board once again, he and Hutt said the district and district counsel have come to a payment agreement.

The candidates forum runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight at Crestmoor Elementary School, 2322 Crestmoor Drive in San Bruno.

tramroop@examiner.com

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