Friday, November 21, 2008

Assemblywoman-elect Joan Buchanan's school board replacement will be chosen by trustees

SAN RAMON VALLEY — When Joan Buchanan heads off for the state Assembly, the San Ramon Valley school board will pick her replacement rather than hold an election.

Buchanan, a school board member since 1990, is resigning after winning the state Assembly District 15 race in the Nov. 4 election.

She has served half her current four-year term on the school board, and was last elected in 2006 along with running mates Rachel Hurd and fellow incumbent Bill Clarkson in a four-candidate race for three seats on the five-member board. Her replacement would serve the remaining two years.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, there was little discussion before the 5-0 vote, with only Buchanan, who was attending her last meeting, commenting on the cost to hold an election.

"That was easy," said board president Greg Marvel.

The next step is for the district staff to develop deadlines for the application process, such as public announcements and the interview process, said district spokesman Terry Koehne.

Superintendent Steven Enoch said the timeline would be presented to the board at the next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 9.

Buchanan's resignation is effective Nov. 30. The school board has 60 days to either appoint her replacement or call for an election that would have to be held in March, according to the district. The last board election would have been in November, but trustees Marvel and Paul Gardner ran Advertisementunopposed.

Having an election to fill Buchanan's term would cost more than $500,000, the district estimated. Enoch, who said the method being used to replace Buchanan was discussed at the last board meeting, said money is a top issue at this time.

Like others, the San Ramon Valley district expects state budget cuts to hit it hard. The district is holding a special mail-in only ballot election in May in a second attempt to continue its current parcel tax. Its first try failed in June.

The decision to appoint rather than to elect her successor came after a long recognition period at Tuesday's meeting, when board members, district leaders and parents praised Buchanan for her service.

Marvel, who lost against Buchanan in 1998 before being elected two years later, said he could not think of many times when he disagreed with her.

"She has been that rock that the rest of the board revolves around," he said.

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