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Four challengers, two incumbents seek seats on school board

By: Laura Newell Telegraph Staff Writer
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Six candidates are running for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District school board this year include two incumbents and four new candidates running. Bill Miklos, 57, financial executive manager Miklos is a six-year resident of Folsom, a husband and a father of two children. His son is currently a college student and his daughter is a teacher at the middle school level. His wife is a 19-year teaching veteran and currently works in this district. “After a year and a half of questing the fiscal layoffs and direction, I felt the board needed a change,” Miklos said. “Because of my background, I thought I was the most qualified to do this.” Milkos said he has a management background where he taught for nonprofit organizations about management skills to volunteers. “I don’t think there are enough management skills in the district,” he said. “I think (management skills) are what are missing in the district. That’s what I bring to the table.” Miklos said his biggest goal for the district is to have substantial shifts in all matters including fiscal and student related electives. “The district reduced student electives and didn’t give parents proper notice,” he said. “In contrast, they are in a hurry to send layoff notices. There is a communication shortfall there.” Miklos said he wants to bring more human capital back into the district. “The question I always ask is how much money can we save,” he said. Personally, Miklos said his hobbies include golf and working out. Miklos said he declined to state his political affiliation because it is a nonpartisan race. He also had thoughts on the state’s budget concerns. “The district is in significant debt,” he said. “Their numbers aren’t making sense to me. They are way overestimated and way underfunded. This is what I’m talking about with human capitalism.” Miklos said the operating budget needs to be better aligned with all income, state or federal. “We are totally out of alignment,” he said. Miklos’ last thoughts to the public include the following. “With the vast amount of management experience in workplace and nonprofits, I bring unique skills and passion to the district which adds a level of expertise which I feel will benefit the students, parents and teachers in the district,” Miklos said. Zak Ford, 32, workforce education coordinator Ford is a resident of Mather, a husband of eight years and a father of two young children. His daughter is three years old and his son is in first grade. “I’m running because I think the board needs a fresh perspective,” Ford said. “With my experience in education funding advocacy, I think it’s important that we have someone who is proactive rather than reactive. It’s extremely important especially in this tough economic time.” Ford grew up in Rancho Cordova and said he has deep roots in the community. “Also I think it’s important to have someone on the board with elementary aged children, the decisions I will make will have direct impact on my children.” He said his children are the primary reason why he is running. “I never thought about it before, then I got involved with the school district meetings,” he said. Ford said his goals for the district include being accessible, transparent and the board needs to be able to build partnerships with parents, teachers, community and local businesses. “I think it’s extremely important because we are all in this together, these students should be prepared to be productive members of our local community upon graduation in our local school district, whether they go onto college or the workforce,” he said. Personally, Ford said his hobbies include baseball. He said he is a Giants baseball fan. His political affiliation is democrat. “I believe in partnerships as opposed to partisan politics,” he said. He also had thoughts on the state’s budget concerns. “In California, we are taxed in the top five percent of all states and at the same time, education funding is in the bottom five percent of all states,” Ford said. “That statistic is very upsetting to me.” Ford said it is really about finding new funding sources. “It’s important that we have someone who is experienced in advocacy with funding, so I will do everything in my power to ensure my children and the children in the district receive the adequate funding that we deserve,” Ford said. Ron Melchin, 49, business attorney Melchin is a 16 year resident of Folsom and a father of three children. His 17 year-old son currently lives with him in Folsom and is a senior at Vista del Lago High School. “It’s something that I wanted to do for a long time and now I’m able to do it,” he said. “I don’t have any interest is seeking any other office, this is my opportunity to serve the community. My goal is to serve a committed four years.” He said his son has received positive help in the district for a learning disability. “I feel like because I know I can do a good job, it’s an opportunity to me to put something back into the program,” Melchin said. Melchin said he has currently visited all of the schools within the district. “I didn’t want to be the board member who makes decisions from afar,” Melchin said. “I want to go into the district and see what needs to be done and have access to schools to visit and make decisions.” Melchin said his goals are still evolving for the district. “I’m an advocate for reduction in class size,” he said. “I’ve been to all elementary schools … and the class sizes are unfathomable. Residually, with the budget, now the funding for that may need to come from somewhere else.” He said as a board member, he would help facilitate funding providing supplies through community involvement. Personally, Melchin said his hobbies include golfing and traveling. He said he plans to go to Paris, France for his upcoming 50th birthday in May. His political affiliation is democrat. “I consider myself fiscally conservative and socially moderate,” he said. He also had thoughts on the state’s budget concerns. “I think it’s clear that public education is not funded as a priority in this state,” Melchin said. “I think our prosperity is directly dependent on the success of our public education system.” Melchin said he’s the most qualified to serve. “My hope is the best qualified, committed and compassionate individuals be elected and that they are successful as future members of the board,” he said. Vincent Hill, 44, business owner Hill has lived in Folsom since 2003, is a husband of 21 years and a father of four daughters ages 16, 15, 13 and 10. “I have four daughters in the district, so education is really important to me,” Hill said. “I have a lot to offer to the district including executive leadership and team moral. Those are important for making decisions in tough economic times.” He said his background and experiences uniquely qualify him for this position. “Everything is about the kids to me, to help them reach their full potential,” he said. Hill said one of his goals for the district includes being a citizen overseer and making sure the district operates in a transparent and open manner and is cost efficient. “It has to benefit the kids first,” Hill said. “We should give every child a chance to blossom. We need to provide the tools to all of our kids to excel.” Hill said his hobbies include playing the guitar and the ukulele. His political affiliation is Republican. He also had thoughts on the state’s budget concerns. “My family is plaintiffs in the Robles-Wong vs. California lawsuit,” Hill said. “The reason I like that suit is because they are not just asking for money, they are asking for fundamental changes on how the state mandates and funds education.” He said he is concerned over a lot of issues regarding the budget. “We need less categorical funds and more unrestricting funding to give teachers and principals more flexibility to meet the needs of their students,” Hill said. Richard Shaw, 68, incumbent, retired school principal Shaw has lived in Folsom since 1970 and is the father of two grown children, ages 34 and 31. “I’ve been a trustee for eight years now and I never intended to stay this long, but when you get involved, it’s hard to walk away,” Shaw said. “We are right in the middle of a lot of things and it would be hard to leave.” He said some of the current projects he is working with on the school board include work on an educational services center to consolidate administration, have a more efficient service center and create a board room. “One of my goals is to make us a paperless board,” Shaw said. A paperless board would provide a paper free environment including live streaming school board meetings and all agendas posted online, Shaw said. “You always want to look for ways to be better then what you do,” Shaw said. “All the business will be out in the open for people.” He said he has always been a lover of technology and as a board member he tried to bring more technology to the classrooms. Shaw said his hobbies include golf, skiing, racquetball and kayaking. His political affiliation is independent. He also had thoughts on the state’s budget concerns. “Obviously the state is in trouble, they are running up a debt and even if the economy improved, it’s going to take years to get back to neutral,” Shaw said. “In the present budget that just passed, they have made assumptions that may or may not come true.” Shaw said leadership experience is vital. “I had worked for the school district for more than 30 years and at that time there was an initiative to split up the district, so one of the reasons (I first ran) was to keep the district intact and I’m really glad I did,” Shaw said. “We have done a good job in keeping the district solvent in the most difficult times. I think it’s important to retain proven leadership.” Ed Short, 51, incumbent Short has lived in Mather since 2001 and in the Rancho Cordova area for 20 years. He’s been married for 14 years and has two daughters, ages 13 and 11. “Community service is really important to me and I want to be a part of equality to all,” Short said. “I want to provide a safe, conclusive learning environment to the kids. Especially in these hard times, I want to make sure that I can be a part of that equation to help out and make it successful.” Short said his two daughters are what inspired him to give back to the district. “They inspired me in many aspects of the community not just the school district,” he said. Short said his goals for the district include rigor, relationships and relevance. “I want to make sure our program is providing those high standards and providing high achieving standards for all,” he said. Short said his experience in government will allow him to be a positive board member. “I have a masters in government,” Short said. “Experienced leadership is needed to get us through the tough times. There is a lot to know … you don’t learn this overnight.” Short said his hobbies include taking his ski boat out with his family on Folsom Lake, hiking, fishing and cooking. His political affiliation is Republican. “But (my political affiliation) shouldn’t have any bearing on keeping our kids first,” Short said. “I keep the politics out. I’m just there sincerely for the kids.” He also had thoughts on the state’s budget concerns. “I think under these tough times, the state is going to make more cuts to our kids and that really concerns me,” Short said. “They are balancing the budget on the backs of our kids and sacrificing our kid’s education. So we need experienced leadership to help pull us through these tough times.” Short said this election should be about the kids. “I would really appreciate and be honored to continue to work for the district and continue the good work together that we’ve been doing,” Short said. “It’s a tough time and we can get through it together. We need to keep the kids first.”