BY: VINCENT WOO
UHS Democrats held a town hall for IUSD School Board election candidates Sharon Wallin and Jean Anne Turner to gather their formal platforms for the upcoming municipal election on November 6.
The town hall moderated by club president senior Sabrina Huang featured questions for the candidates ranging from mental health to funding for Irvine schools.
Ms. Sharon Wallin, who is the incumbent and currently serving her fourth term, was selected as Board President this year.
Mrs. Jean Anne Turner, an educator for 36 years in Irvine, has won multiple accolades including Irvine Middle School Teacher of the Year during her career.
Mr. Ilya Tseglin, a third candidate who did not appear at the town hall, has not released any official candidacy statement.
The state of the district’s older schools was a pressing issue posed to the candidates. Measure E, passed by Irvine voters in June 2016, will provide $319 million for 28 aging IUSD schools across the district.
Turner pledged to raise the issue at School Board meetings in order to ensure that “the School Board allocates resources fairly [by] improving our older schools and equipping every child in Irvine with the knowledge and skills to succeed in life.”
Wallin vowed to make sure that all $319 million intended for older IUSD schools would be set aside and provided to the schools in question.
Both candidates felt strongly that there is a mental health issue facing the district, with Turner hoping to implement an approach, similar to the ‘Be Nice to People’ attitude instilled at Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, and Wallin reiterating that she would “prioritize the balance between academic, physical, and emotional well-being” of students,.
Transparency of the activities of the School Board also arose at the town hall. Turner pledged to open any and all School Board meetings to the general public, including notifying citizens ahead of time of any gatherings.
Wallin asserted that ongoing efforts were being made for full School Board transparency, as all meeting agendas and minutes are posted online. The meetings are also broadcasted on ICTV, Irvine’s official television channel.
Wallin also made it clear that future taxpayer money spent by the district would be monitored and recorded carefully, especially money going to contracts for corporation-district partnerships.
The conclusion of the formal questioning period was followed by questions from individual audience members.
One prevalent topic raised was that of school safety following the school shootings.
Wallin stated that efforts were being made to increase school surveillance and increase the role of a School Resource Officer(SRO), an employed police officer by Irvine Police Ddepartment.
Turner underscored the role of mental health in the issue, stating that the majority of school shootings were perpetrated by current or former students of the said school, and that efforts made to improve mental health would have effects on school shooting rates.
Some UHS students appreciate the opportunities events such as the town hall provide for students to become more aware of local issues.
“I think that the issues discussed are very important to the student body,” sophomore Liam Horan, a member of the UHS Democrats, said. “…some of the solutions proposed by [the] candidates were more feasible than others, but ultimately it is good to know that the district is paying attention to mental health and and the state of Uni as well as other [older] schools.”
All United States citizens 18 or older and not currently a convicted felon may vote in the upcoming general election. The polls will open on Tuesday, November 6, but citizens registered in Orange County can submit votes as early as Saturday, October 27.