EDITOR’S NOTE: This article also includes a preview of the Encinitas Union School District race.
ENCINITAS — The two challengers in the Encinitas Union School District race have cried foul over actions taken by two of the district’s employee unions in support of the incumbent board members.
Supporters of Amy Glancy and Christian Adams complained to District Superintendent Tim Baird that one of the employee groups, Classifieds of Encinitas, had posted signs of support for incumbents Marla Strich, Gregg Sonken and Emily Andrade at Capri Elementary School.
The signs read “COE of Encinitas Supports Sonken, Andrade, Strich for EUSD School Board” and invited readers to a “conversation with them” at the Oct. 11 union meeting at El Camino Creek Elementary School.
“These practices seem to be at the least unprofessional and the most illegal,” Julia Moore, a supporter of Glancy and Adams, wrote in an email addressed to the board members and media. “I am contacting organizations regarding these matters. In the meantime, I would hope you would participate in the ethical practices of equity and take down these posters and not allow sites to host certain candidates. This does not create fair and equitable practices.”
Baird said he asked the employee union president to take the signs down and repost her meeting announcement with an announcement that was clearly not a campaign endorsement.
“She did that immediately,” Baird said. “We do have district policy on this issue and we ask that all employees follow our policy.”
Initially, however, Baird responded to Moore by saying that the issue wasn’t “clear cut” and that he called the employee union to discuss the issue.
“Although we have policy that states that employees may not post political endorsement signs on school premises, this situation does not exactly meet that definition,” Baird opined. “First, this is an official notice from one of our unions inviting employees to a union meeting. The sign does make a factual statement, ‘COE of Encinitas Supports …’ but it is not specifically calling for individual voters to support these candidates.
“I’m guessing that COE would argue that they are informing their members of an official COE stance and thus explaining the purpose for the upcoming meeting,” Baird wrote. “With that said, I will see if the COE president could take the sign down and inform her members in a way that does not appear to be soliciting support.”
Moore, Glancy and Adams said they believed the inequity also included how the candidates were endorsed. They said that officials with Teachers of Encinitas, the teachers’ union, informed them that the group had endorsed the candidates during the spring, well before the filing period for the race, which was between July and August.
“It made no sense that they could make an endorsement without even knowing who was going to run against the incumbents,” Glancy said.
The Coast News has reached out by way of email to Chris Noonan, the president of Teachers of Encinitas this year. Noonan had not responded to the email at the time of publication.
— ELECTION PREVIEW —
Five for three seats in Encinitas Union School District Race
By Aaron Burgin
ENCINITAS — Two years ago, Encinitas Union School District voters participated in a particularly contentious election fueled by criticism over the district’s spending on non-essential projects and a perceived lack of transparency.
The verdict was a split decision, as voters elected one of the district’s most vocal critics and one of its supporters to the board.
In 2018, there are no major issues fueling the election, and very few headlines have come out of the district in the ensuing years since the 2016 race.
But this election does see two challengers and three incumbents vying for the three spots up for grabs on the district’s board of trustees.
Longtime board members Marla Strich, Emily Andrade and Gregg Sonken are on the ballot, as are newcomers Amy Glancy and Christian Adams.
The latter are running parallel campaigns, looking to upseat two of the incumbents.
The incumbents said they are running to continue the district down its current path of being one of the top districts in the county and state.
“I am running to continue the stable, visionary leadership that makes EUSD one of the best districts in the county and state,” said Strich, who was first elected in 1998. “I have a deep understanding of the history and development of our district over the past 20 years. I bring a big picture outlook in order to provide the best possible education for all students in EUSD.”
Strich, Andrade and Sonken — who are running as a so-called ticket — listed maintaining the district’s academic excellence, ensuring safe campuses and continuing strong, stable leadership at every level of the elementary school district as their top priorities.
Andrade, who was elected in 2010, also lists keeping the district financially solvent as one of her chief priorities.
“It is essential that EUSD continues to demonstrate fiscal prudence and responsible spending and investing,” Andrade said. “This will be especially critical in the future with the possibility of additional housing and our ever-changing economy.”
Glancy, a 48-year-old teacher and education consultant, said that trying to upseat an incumbent is difficult, especially in a relatively calm school climate. But she believes the district can do better, starting with improving the disconnect between the district’s parents and its administration.
“My biggest thing as a candidate as that as a parent in the district, I never felt connected to the district until I was studying for my master’s degree,” Glancy said, saying that she was performing a research survey as part of her studies. “I sat down with (administrators) and asked them what is the district’s focus. They looked at me as if to say, ‘You’re kidding?’ and told me to look at the district’s website.
“As a parent, why would I need to go to the website,” she said. “And that’s the disconnect. Most parents don’t know what is going on at that level unless it is communicated at the site level. And I believe that’s the whole point of the board, to be a voice for the community and to the community.”
Glancy and Adams argue the district can also do better at being more transparent with data tracking the district’s performance, especially dealing with English learners and special education students.
Again, Glancy said, this comes back to communication with the parents.