Mount. Diablo hopes must learn from the school district’s past

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As two outgoing trustees step down and the Mount Diablo school system moves to district elections, the new board members chosen in the November 3 election will face major challenges.

Unfortunately, none of the candidates are well prepared and none of them, if elected, would face significant learning curves. We recommend Keisha Nzewi in Zone 3 and Erin McFerrin in Zone 5. But we are aware of their knowledge gaps.

The district faces serious challenges: the teachers have not agreed to the conditions for returning to class and their one-year employment contract will expire next year. At the same time, the district has a new superintendent, Adam clark, hired over the summer after his predecessor lasted less than 10 months.

Projections major budget deficits over the next two years are compounded by financial uncertainties and declining enrollment in districts. And the employee retiree health coverage deficit, last set at $ 102 million, looks like bad credit card debt, continuing to grow because the district fails to even make minimum payments.

That said, the district has come a long way from the deceptive and scandalous bail measure and covert, politically charged administration of a decade ago that ultimately led to the dismissal of the superintendent and the council attorney that same night.

Like Mt. Diablo begins holding district elections, Trustees Brian Lawrence and Joanne Durkee have opted out of re-election. Voting will take place in two districts, officially called zones, this year and three in 2022.

We interviewed four of the five candidates for the two seats. And, of those four, none knew about the neighborhood’s troubled history – leaving us worried that they would be destined to repeat the past if they didn’t educate themselves.

Keisha Nzewi (Aric Crabb / Bay Area News Group)

In Zone 3, Nzewi brings a strong summary of children’s rights advocacy and public health education, which could prove useful in these troubled times. But she has only been living in the neighborhood for two years and has a lot to learn. We hope that her solid background in public policy will help her make the transition if elected.

As for his opponents, software developer Michael Schneider has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years but, surprisingly, also lacked historical knowledge. And Dennis Chow, a retired mechanical engineer and a member of one of the district’s Citizen Oversight Committees, was unaware of the district’s expected budget deficits.

Erin McFerrin (Anda Chu / Bay Area News Group)

In Zone 5, McFerrin is a high school English teacher who has just left Mt. Diablo district, after receiving a dismissal notice, to take a job in the nearby school district of Acalanes Union High School. She would bring a class perspective to the board. His challenge would be to see the problems from a broader perspective. His opponent, Carol Trost, did not respond to our calls and emails.

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