School board swears in Ken Mintz as trustee | January 30, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - January 30, 2009

School board swears in Ken Mintz as trustee

Late-night compromise re-seats former school board member

by Harry Stoll

San Ramon Valley Unified School District Superintendent Steve Enoch swore in Ken Mintz as the new school board member at 10:08 p.m. Jan. 21 after a lengthy debate over the two finalists. Mintz, who served on the school board from 1992-96, replaces 18-year member Joan Buchanan, who was elected to the State Assembly in November.

"I'm honored to have been selected to fill the vacant seat on the school board," said Mintz. "While we have some very significant economic challenges to resolve in the next several months, I'm looking forward to contributing to the success of one of the finest public education systems in the state of California."

Mintz and Denise Jennison emerged as the final candidates after a five-hour interview process in which the four-member board interviewed eight candidates selected from an original field of 15. Finally, one trustee switched his support, ending what looked like an impossible stalemate.

"I'm big enough to compromise," said Board Member Paul Gardner, announcing his change of support from Denise Jennison to Ken Mintz.

Gardner and Board Member Rachel Hurd supported Jennison, and Board President Bill Clarkson and Board Member Greg Marvel supported Mintz during a two-hour tie.

Jennison was lauded by Hurd for her closeness to the schools as an employee, a PTA activist and member of several task forces.

Mintz, a San Ramon resident, is director of external affairs for AT&T. He has one son in district schools and was supported due to his connection to the business community and his prior membership on the board.

"He won't need training wheels," said Clarkson, who placed heavy emphasis on Mintz being ready to do the work of the steep budget cuts coming.

"He will hit the ground running," said Marvel, emphasizing there was no time to bring a new member up to speed.

After the meeting Mintz said he was overwhelmed and was ready to immediately take on the challenge. He said he has followed the budget problems, is familiar with the cuts being contemplated, and attended the community forums on the parcel tax.

The 2-2 stalemate went several rounds with both sides essentially reiterating their arguments. Gardner said one of his priorities, although not of the first order, was to have another woman on the board. Hurd pointed out that Jennison lived in the north end of the district and, although board members aren't elected by districts, that would provide a balance. Buchanan lives in Alamo.

Marvel said he didn't care where in the district a candidate lived and when hiring he paid no attention to gender.

The battle was marked by civility, with forthright but not harsh exchanges between board members who often said that all eight of the candidates were qualified. Clarkson asked board members to emphasize the positives of their choice rather than the negatives of the other candidates.

After Gardner said Clarkson and Marvel couldn't be moved from their positions, he said, "It's up to Rachel and I to compromise." He nominated Mintz, it was seconded by Marvel, and the vote was 4-0.

Mintz will serve the remaining two years of Buchanan's term, and the seat will be up for re-election in 2010. He is active in the city of San Ramon Parks Commission, San Ramon Chamber of commerce, Tri-Valley Business County and Museum of the San Ramon Valley.

"Ken brings to the school board a broad range of experience, including over 20 years of community, business and civic involvement," said Clarkson. "While each of the eight candidates we interviewed was exceptional, I am confident that Ken will be able to hit the ground running. He will serve the students, parents and community members of our district well."