As school board election nears, PAEA endorses two newcomers

Allie Feitzinger, Editor-in-Chief

Come November, the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education may have two new members — the Palo Alto Educators Association hopes so, having passed over an incumbent candidate in favor of endorsing two newcomers for the empty seats.

PAEA openly supported Stacey Ashlund and Shounak Dharap in a tweet posted on Aug. 25.

“In this November’s election, Palo Alto voters will select two trustees for the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education,” the tweet reads. “PAEA has endorsed two candidates – Stacy Ashlund and Shounak Dharap.”

PAEA did not endorse incumbent Ken Dauber, the current Board president, who is running against Ashlund and Dharap, as are candidates Alex Scharf and Kathy Jordan.

According to Teri Baldwin, president of PAEA, the association feels Dharap and Ashlund are the best fit for the district, due to both their past experience and their future plans.

While we recognize strengths in each candidate, our members felt that Mr. Dharap and Ms. Ashlund stood out for their overall understanding of our schools’ current strengths and challenges, their ideas about improving the district, and their insights from past experiences as a student (Dharap) and parent (Ashlund),” Baldwin said in an email.

Baldwin hopes new leadership will provide opportunities for improvement in the district and allow for the growth of relationships.

“We always try to inform the district administration and the Board about what’s working and what could improve, and then we move forward based on the support and guidance of those leaders,” Baldwin stated. “With many new faces in district leadership, including Superintendent Austin, we’re hoping to establish and continue building strong relationships, since we all share the responsibility of ensuring that Palo Alto students get the best education possible.”

As November approaches, PAEA hopes the elections will ensure the highest possible quality of Palo Alto schools, Baldwin says.

“Our members are your teachers and counselors, and quite a few of us are also parents of PAUSD students,” Baldwin stated. “So as you might expect, our priority is simply to make schools as good as they can be.”