Elk Grove schools: Madison, Chaires Espinoza, Forcina, Yes on M

Chet Madison Sr.
Chet Madison Sr.

The Elk Grove Unified School District is Northern California’s largest, with enrollment expected to top 70,000 by the decade’s end. Its challenges are big, too, with an urgent need for classrooms and stable management.

This year, voters are being asked to approve a first-ever bond to build and repair schools. We endorse Measure M, and urge that voters retain the incumbents.

In Florin’s Area 1, Tony Perez has no opposition. In Area 3, we endorse Chet Madison Sr. over challenger Chris Baker. Madison, a retired trucking executive and 40-year Elk Grove resident, has served 16 years on the board. Baker is active in the community and raised a son in the district, but lacks Madison’s experience.

In Area 6, we recommend Nancy Chaires Espinoza, a former Elk Grove planning commissioner appointed last year to complete the term of Steve Ly after Ly joined the Elk Grove City Council. Her opponent, Marlon Hill, is a youth basketball coach, parent and volunteer on school site councils, and says he has no political ambitions beyond the school board – a consideration, given that Area 6, in the southwestern part of the district, has had three trustees in four years.

But Chaires Espinoza, who has a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard, has worked on educational issues as a consultant, a legislative analyst and most recently a legislative representative for school boards. Her priorities, besides managing growth, include adding a dual language immersion program to at least one of Elk Grove’s 40 diverse elementary schools.

In vast Area 7, which spills into parts of Rancho Cordova and Sacramento, incumbent Carmine Forcina is the better choice. A former teacher, principal and school administrator, Forcina, 74, knows education and has worked to improve budget transparency and public access. His opponent, 21-year-old Nikita Kostyuk, opposes Common Core, and his only educational experience is as a substitute teacher in a Christian school.

Finally, voters should pass Measure M, the proposed $476 million school bond. The district estimates it would cost property owners $38 per $100,000 of assessed value annually. If the statewide school bond, Proposition 51, fails, the district will desperately need the facilities money; and if it passes,the additional Measure M money will allow the district to finally make a dent in its classroom needs.