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School board should be more accessible, candidate says

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
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Mike Stafford says the Placer Union High School District can do better. Stafford has been involved as a parent with area schools since the 1980s. He and wife Chris have three children who graduated from Del Oro High, and their youngest, Jesse, 16, is in his junior year at the school. Stafford, 52, holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from San Jose State University. He is a real estate broker who also owns a space-planning company with his wife. Stafford served on the Loomis Union School District board of trustees for six years, only stepping down to in 2000 to accept an appointment to the Placer County Planning Commission. “I think it was an interest in being involved in our children’s education and being involved in the culture of a growing community,” the Loomis businessman said of his past school-board experience. Now Stafford’s sights are set on the Area 5 seat on the Placer Union board of trustees. He is campaigning against incumbent Kathleen Geary. One of his reasons for running is a belief that the board of trustees is too far removed from the district’s “clients” — students, parents and Placer County taxpayers. “I think we need a more accessible and engaged school board and district,” Stafford said of the current board. “For whatever reason, they’re not accessible and they seem disengaged from the communities.” Stafford takes issue with student achievement, and thinks district trustees and administration should do more. “The schools don’t reflect the community’s expectations of academic excellence,” he said. In other words, students test high in area feeder schools, but test scores seem to drop at the high school level, Stafford said. “We’re not particularly competitive with the high schools on the Highway 50 corridor or the Granite Bay/Roseville area,” he said. “We could do a lot better, and it doesn’t even seem to be a concern. Kids coming out of our high schools are at a distinct disadvantage, for higher education and for jobs.” Stafford wants to do what he can to improve a district that already has much strength. “We have absolutely excellent staff and we also have some very strong and positive community traditions in each community,” he said. “There’s a lot of community cohesion and culture.” Jack Day served on the Loomis school board with Stafford for four years, and is currently in his 10th year as a trustee. “I think that he’s a great candidate,” Day said of Stafford. “He’s had a range of experiences. I think that he has a real good understanding of what’s going on at the schools and at the district.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at lorylln@goldcountrymedia.com, or comment online at Auburnjournal.com.