Experienced contenders for Placer Union H.S. board

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
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Three community members, all with school board experience under their belts, are contending for two seats on the Placer Union High School District board of trustees. Incumbent Lynn MacDonald is running, unopposed, for another term in the Area-1 trustee position, and incumbent Kathleen Geary is vying for another term as Area-5 trustee. Mike Stafford, a Loomis-based businessman and former Loomis Union School District trustee, is also campaigning for the Area 5 position. The Placer Union High School District serves approximately 4,450 students and covers roughly 1,000 square miles from Yuba Gap to Rocklin. District campuses include Chana, Colfax, Del Oro, Foresthill, Maidu and Placer high schools, as well as the Placer School for Adults. District challenges the board either currently faces or might face in the next few years, as Superintendent Bart O’Brien sees it, include the state budget, finding ways to best accommodate a changing student demographic and declining enrollment. “While (declining enrollment) is manageable, it’s still something we’re dealing with,” he said. Stafford, 52, and his family have lived in Loomis since 1985. Three of the four Stafford children graduated from Del Oro High School, and the youngest, Jesse, 16, is a junior at the school. Stafford is a real estate broker who also owns a space-planning company with wife Chris. He also currently serves on the Placer County Planning Commission. Stafford would like to see a school board and administration that is more connected with district’s campuses and community. “I really found that the high school district, at least at the site level, is really detached,” he said. “I think they’ve forgotten that they belong to the taxpayers in Placer County, that they’re the owners and also the customers.” Stafford also thinks those managing the district need a deeper involvement in student achievement. “The administration and the trustees should be accountable for the performance of the schools,” he said. “They should be accessible to the community and they should be committed to academic excellence and not just doing OK.” Stafford goes up against Geary, who has held the Area 5 seat since February 1999. The Granite Bay mother of three Del Oro graduates works part-time for the American Cancer Society, as director of building volunteer capacity. She, husband John and their sons moved to California from Chicago in 1986. Geary said Monday her work on the Placer Union board isn’t done yet. “I still believe very strongly in the district,” she said. “It is a fabulous district but we can always continue to improve, and I feel I still have more to give.” Unopposed incumbent MacDonald, 66, of Colfax, has served on the Placer Union board since 1978. “I believe that quality public education is the most vital component in perpetuating the free, democratic society and culture we enjoy,” she said in a recent e-mail. ”We need educated citizens who are trained to work and who value lifelong learning. I want to be part of this endeavor.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at, or comment online at