New RUSD Board of Education
December 15, 2020
The makeup of Riverside Unified School District’s (RUSD) Board of Education will change as a result of the Nov. 3 election. Members of the board are given four year terms and are elected at either the midterm or general elections. Each member represents one of the five trustee areas of Riverside and are elected by only the residents of that area. The board was formed to lead the school district in providing high-quality education to children in Riverside through establishing a vision for progress and a plan to meet those goals through monthly meetings and decisions.
Dale Kinnear is the only newly elected member to the board, taking over the Trustee Area Two board position formerly held by the recently sworn in Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock-Dawson. Kinnear defeated Kathleen Barth by winning with 52.4% of votes cast and began his term on Dec. 11. He is the past high school principal of both John W. North and Riverside Polytechnic High School and a member of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee for RUSD. During his tenure at North he was named the “High School Principal of the Year” for California in 2012 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Kinnear has been critical of the Board of Education in the past especially over issues of bond allocation to schools.
Kinnear told the North Star in 2019, “I believe wealthier neighborhoods, more affluent parents [and] more parents who vote cause the district to give preference to Poly over North. I also add King to the list of high schools receiving preferential treatment,” when asked what he believed led to bond allocation disparities in RUSD schools.
There are also three student board members who will each serve three month terms: seniors Venessa Orozco from STEM, Rhea Mistry from Poly and Michah Dailey-White from Ramona. Teachers and principals from each high school nominate students to apply for these positions and then the three students are chosen after a series of applications and interviews.
“I am the student opinion as I sit with the rest of the board of education during these meetings providing my vote during consent and action items. I would also provide the opinions, needs, complaints, worries, and positive input from students in the whole district,” said Orozco.
Tom Hunt was up for reelection this year and he won with over 55.6% of votes cast in Trustee Area Four against Darlene Trujillo-Elliot and Christina Ziembowicz. He is currently the Vice President of the board and has been a member since 2007. Hunt is currently the chair of the Operations Board Subcommittee which focuses primarily on spending Measure O funds in maintenance projects.
The Area Three race was cancelled due to a lack of an opposing candidate to the incumbent Dr. Angelov Farooq. President Kathy Alavie and Clerk Brent Lee’s terms both end in 2022. Terms are staggered in order to always have some experienced board members.
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing the district to go almost completely online, these school board members have more to deal with than ever before. The board’s meetings have been done over Zoom for the past few months and the public input section has remained. There are questions about when to reopen schools if at all, as well as what to do about the possibility of learning loss due to virtual learning. This school board’s decisions over the next couple of months could have large impacts on the community due to the global pandemic.