Once a rapidly growing school district, Natomas Unified has seen flat enrollment. The district has turned a corner with new Superintendent Chris Evans and is poised to make academic improvements and stabilize financially.
Voters will choose three board members from a field of two incumbents, three repeat candidates and five new candidates. Incumbent Jules Tran is not running.
This five-member board would benefit from a mix of experience and fresh perspective.
Incumbent Bruce Roberts, a civil engineer who has two children in Natomas Unified schools, came on the board in 2008 wanting to clean up some messes a bad land deal and lack of superintendent evaluations, to name two. He delivered and now has focused on attracting families to schools with improved math and science programs, all-day kindergarten, International Baccalaureate. He supports charter schools and Teach for America.
Susan Heredia, a college professor expert in English language learner issues, is director of the Cross-Cultural Resource Center at Sacramento State. She seeks to attract students to the district's traditional schools and stem the flow of students to charter schools. She opposes the district bringing in Teach for America. Heredia has provided 12 years of yeoman service, but it is time for new board members.
Roberts is the better choice of the two incumbents. Among the challengers, new candidates Scott Dosick and Vina Guzman stand out.
Guzman, a parent of three children, has served on the Inderkum PTSA and Witter Ranch site council, as well as the districtwide parent advisory council. She would bring 10 years of experience with the California School Boards Association, where she is currently the director of district and financial services. She knows school finances and can explain convincingly why the district needs a reserve. She would work to get beyond the north-south and charter-traditional school divides.
Dosick, a parent of a kindergartner and a fourth-grader and former deputy chief of recycling for California, is a small-business owner and university instructor. He helped bring the International Baccalaureate program to Inderkum High School and serves on the board of Westlake Charter. He, too, wants to bridge the divide between traditional and charter schools. His passion is reversing the flight of families from Natomas schools.
Repeat candidates Briza Trujillo Cardenas, H. K. Allen and Ryan Herche have strengths and can continue to benefit the district as volunteers. New candidate Michael Bedrosian is hostile to Teach for America. Karen Bernal sees most school issues through the lens of collective bargaining. Josh Baker is on the ballot but not campaigning.
Roberts, Guzman and Dosick are the best choices for Natomas.