EDITORIAL: choices for school board

FRANCISCO CASTILLO: works for StudentsFirst (News-Ledger Photo)

FRANCISCO CASTILLO: works for StudentsFirst (News-Ledger Photo)



West Sacramento voters this week will take a look at a slate of five contenders, and choose one to fill a vacancy on the local school board.

There are some people in the community who wish to vilify one candidate or another. The current love/hate litmus test is the question of which candidate has the backing of the city’s activist mayor, Christopher Cabaldon. But you know what? These five are all good people, and any one of them would do at least a decent job on the school board.

It has been hard, however,  to find a way to judge their individual potential as school district trustees using their respective records in public service. Instead, we have to look mostly at their professional resumes and at their public remarks to try to determine how well each understands a board member’s role and how effective he or she would be on the “board of directors” of the local school district. The school board member’s job is, above all, as a manager: chief duties include hiring and managing a superintendent, making budget choices and creating an effective corporate structure, as well as setting strategic policy.

LINH NGUYEN: Background in Silicon Valley & Business (News-Ledger photo)

LINH NGUYEN: Background in Silicon Valley & Business (News-Ledger photo)

From the current group of five candidates emerge the three most interesting choices:

Francisco Castillo, an executive with a school reform organization who advocates education choices for parents;

Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez, who teaches in an outside district and speaks the language of school curriculum; and

Linh Nguyen, who brings a unique analytic approach to problem-solving, possibly learned during his experiences in business and science.

Any of these three would be a good bet on the board.

The teacher Kirby-Gonzalez, however, is the candidate who has shown the best grasp of public school issues and the closest understanding of what, exactly, a school board member really does.

SARAH KIRBY--GONZALEZ: Teaches in Folsom-Cordova District (News-Ledger photo)

SARAH KIRBY–GONZALEZ: Teaches in Folsom-Cordova District (News-Ledger photo)

It would be interesting to see what Nguyen or Castillo would do on the board (and we may well see one of them elected next week). But Kirby-Gonzalez has thus far shown the best set of qualifications for the job. From the evidence at hand, she’s the top choice.


You can see the News-Ledger’s interviews of each candidate at the links below. These interviews are made possible by the News-Ledger’s subscribers and its advertisers:

Francisco Castillo

Katherine Gales

Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez

Linh Nguyen

          Nicholas Turney

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