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Elect Treser Osgood, Steffen and Llanusa to the Claremont School Board

When the staff of the COURIER set out to do endorsements of school board candidates for the Tuesday, November 5 local and municipal election, we were faced with a conundrum.

It is the same dilemma that will be faced by voters: five candidates, each uniquely qualified to help guide the Claremont Unified School District toward greatness, but only three open seats.

We put our stamp of approval on incumbent Steven Llanusa, as well as on newcomers Nancy Treser Osgood and Paul Steffen, a trio we believe will bring continuity, collaboration and business acumen to the district.

We would like to salute the civic-mindedness and excellence of the two remaining candidates, Joseph Salas and Dave Nemer.

Mr. Salas has brought many ideas to his campaign, from helping make CUSD more energy-efficient to making Claremont schools draw more equal amounts of intra-district transfers through enrichment programs such as second-language immersion. Far from being pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams, these goals are based on conversations with district personnel and deliberation. We hope that the district embraces this kind of visionary spirit as it moves forward.

At the crux of Dave Nemer’s bid for election is the desire that the board work smoothly as a group, communicating cordially even in times of disagreement. Between his years serving on a myriad of district committees and running an elegant campaign, we have no doubt that reaching an amicable consensus is one of Mr. Nemer’s strong points. We hope that each member of the new board is equally motivated to maintain a healthy rapport, even while hashing out diverging views. 

This being said, every ballot requires decisions, and here are ours:

 

Nancy Treser Osgood

School board candidate Nancy Treser Osgood will bring two valuable perspectives to the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education: that of a longtime CUSD parent and booster and that of a college administrator.

Her position as director of alumni relations at Pomona College, and her post as chair of the Southwest United States for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, matters. Her experience has fueled her commitment to strengthen ties between CUSD and the Claremont Colleges, a connection we feel has been waning in recent years.

Ms. Treser Osgood has the drive and influence to help Claremont schools gain greater access to Colleges resources, from cultural displays and events to student interns ready to volunteer skills such as tutoring and mentoring. She has expressed a desire to build strong bridges between Claremont schools and other local institutions of higher learning such as Citrus College, which welcomes more CUSD graduates than any other school.

Ms. Treser Osgood’s involvement with the Claremont Educational Foundation is also a boon. Her position as secretary and previous involvement shows that, while she looks to the future of district students, she is acutely aware of their current needs.

Another compelling argument for Ms. Treser Osgood’s election to the Claremont School Board is an achievement that is required for anyone’s success, whether it be in the school room or the board room: She has done her homework.

Ms. Treser Osgood has attended nearly every school board meeting in the last 18 months to prepare for her candidacy. She recently audited a class at Pomona College on politics and policy in education, and made efforts to meet with and ask questions of numerous district staff and personnel who can shed light on the most pressing issues facing CUSD today.

The district will soon be coming into millions of dollars from the sale of two surplus properties and will likely see more profit once the old La Puerta Intermediate School site is sold. Ms. Treser Osgood, whose campaign emphasizes communication and collaboration, has vowed to include district stakeholders such as staff, students and residents in the decision-making process leading up to spending those funds. It is the right outlook for a community that values transparency, one that will foster greater buy-in.

Ms. Treser Osgood speaks quickly. Her words, however, are invariably informed by research and deliberation, while their pace is indicative of a formidable intellect.

Ms. Treser Osgood has the passion, insight and commitment to help move an already strong district toward greater heights. She has earned the COURIER’s endorsement.

 

Paul Steffen

Paul Steffen has a knack for business. His experience in running a successful real estate and property management company along with his deep roots in the community have earned him the COURIER endorsement.

As a native Claremonter, Mr. Steffen understands Claremont and the nuances of the city’s processes. His nuts-and-bolts approach to business and volunteerism will serve the district well as it works to rectify an estimated $100 million in deferred maintenance at school sites. With decades of professional experience in buildings and facilities, Mr. Steffen will succeed in prioritizing projects to ensure the most critical needs are met first.

Through his real estate business, Mr. Steffen has gained a practical knowledge of long-term and short-term borrowing, as well as budgeting. He understands how to schedule projects to make things work. Mr. Steffen will add diversity to the board. Because his career and experience is in business, not education, his presence will add a unique perspective to help the board solve problems.

Despite the challenges faced by the district, Mr. Steffen’s outlook is positive. He’s a manager, but doesn’t hesitate to roll up his sleeves to get the job done. Through his volunteer work with the Rotary Club of Claremont and the Claremont Community Foundation, Mr. Steffen has proven that when he sees a need, he will work to fulfill it. He doesn’t complain or wait for others but, instead, looks to create solutions.

Mr. Steffen is approachable. His accessibility will provide a much-needed resource to the school board. In an interview, Mr. Steffen likened his role on the board to serving as a “relief valve,” explaining that “sometimes the buck gets stuck somewhere and people are left feeling disenfranchised.” He has expressed his commitment to ironing out clashes that may exist and vowed to “ring the bell” if the issues aren’t addressed.

His civic involvement is extensive. Mr. Steffen attends and volunteers at numerous events, mingling at happenings like the Taste of Claremont, the Claremont Community Foundation’s Party Parade, the Village Venture and suiting up at the Claremont Educational Foundation’s annual dodge ball fundraiser, to name a few. In short, Mr. Steffen happily participates in the community. We like it.

Paul Steffen has a good relationship with the community. His optimism and barebones approach to problem-solving will be of great benefit to the schools and the district. Mr. Steffen has our vote for the CUSD school board.

 

Steven Llanusa

Steven Llanusa has shown himself to be a thoughtful and valuable board member. He brings eight years of experience and activism to the table and has earned our endorsement.

Mr. Llanusa is known for posing numerous questions to fellow board members and district staff but, over the course of the last term, his queries have generally served to clarify, rather than disrupt, the progress of a district in a building pattern. He has a vast knowledge of how the board operates and has shown an excellent working relationship with current CUSD Superintendent Jim Elsasser.

Last spring, Mr. Llanusa’s willingness to question served him especially well when he was the only board member to vote against completely dismissing former Sumner principal Frank D’Emilio from the district.

Mr. Llanusa’s lone support of Mr. D’Emilio, who is now serving as a teacher at a Claremont elementary school, showed that he understands the importance of loyalty—of acknowledging the value of an otherwise exemplary decades-long career. It showed he embraces compassion over the pre-emptive legal defense, and that he understands the community. His vote will not be forgotten.

Mr. Llanusa has a strong spirit of volunteerism, which shows itself in participation with groups like Kiwanis Club of Claremont’s Youth Service’s Committee and CHS athletics and theater. He is always out and about, which makes him among the most accessible members of the current board.

And his professional experience, serving as technology coordinator at a science and technology magnet school, will be an asset to Claremont schools as the district transitions to the Common Core form of assessment and associated curriculum.

A vote for Steven Llanusa will ensure the school board continues to be a strong team focused on the issues.

 

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