The Coast News Group
Eleven candidates have applied to take the vacant seat on the Board of Trustees for the Carlsbad Unified School District. Photo by Rachel Stine

Candidates aplenty for CUSD Board seat

CARLSBAD — Ranging from a former board member to PTA leaders to a recent high school student, eleven candidates have come forward to apply for the open seat on the Carlsbad Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Trustees.


The winning candidate will be selected by the four remaining trustees to fill former trustee Kelli Moors’ seat after she resigned to take a position with one of the law firms contracted by the district. The position will be filled until November 2014 when the seat will be up for election.

Among the candidates is Nicole Pappas, who served on the Board from 1998 to 2010 with two of the current members.

She said that with her experience on the Board, she believes she can fill the position without needing a learning curve. She hopes to offer the Board a smooth transition during the position’s short term until a new candidate can be elected.

“It’s a one year position. It’s temporary. It’s a filler. I have no intention of running in November of 2014,” she said.

Claudine Jones, the Vice President of Legislation of the Carlsbad Unified Council of PTAs, and Kymberly Szalkiewicz, the former President of the Carlsbad Unified Council of PTAs, have also applied for the position.

Jones mentioned that if selected she intends on using her years of learning about public school funding to help the district make informed financial decisions.

“(The position is) going to take someone who understands the ramifications of different funding mechanisms and we’re really going to have to keep our eye on our spending,” she said.

Similarly, Szalkiewicz stated that as a board trustee she would aim to continue her work bringing more attention and understanding of the district’s financial situation to CUSD parents.

“I don’t think parents understand how a community as affluent as Carlsbad could be so low funded,” she said.

She also mentioned her intention to prioritize lowering class sizes throughout the district.

Unlike Pappas, both Jones and Szalkiewicz said separately that they are strongly considering running for the seat in the 2014 election.

Ray Pearson, a volunteer for numerous CUSD financial committees, has also thrown his name into the hat after running unsuccessfully for election to the Board in 2010 and 2012.

He said that as someone who has not served on the Board or PTA, but has been very involved in district affairs, he presents the opportunity to bring a different perspective to the Board to work on issues including lowering class sizes.

He said, “I’ve always had a passion for helping young people and a passion for working with school districts.”

He said he did not have the intention of running in 2014, but still believes that he could accomplish some goals during the open position’s one-year duration.

The other applicants for the position include Steve Barker, a member of The Education Committee of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Sherman Edward DeForest, a tutor, Sage Thomas Naumann, a recent Carlsbad High School student who has actively campaigned to run in the 2014 election, Kelly Schafer, the secretary of Hope Elementary’s PTA, Gilbert Soto, a member of the Site Council for Magnolia Elementary, David Van Der Linden, a program manager for a local software company, and Thomas Wachter, a father and grandfather of former CUSD students.

The CUSD Board randomly drew names at its Sept. 11 meeting to establish the order of the candidate interviews, which will be held during a public meeting Sept. 16. The order will be DeForest, Jones, Van Der Linden, Schafer, Soto, Szalkiewicz, Wachter, Barker, Pearson, Pappas, and Naumann.

The trustees also decided to allot 30 minutes for public comment during the interview meeting, allowing two minutes per speaker, and established methods to narrow down the candidates and handle tie votes.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Ray Pearson does not and has not had any children in CUSD schools. Pearson has three children, one of whom attended a CUSD school.