Four trustee seats up for Orange vote

EDUCATION: Candidates are likely to face debate on bilingual schooling and social services.

ORANGE, CA—Issues such as bilingual education, growth and school social services likely will dominate the upcoming race for four seats on the seven-member school board.

The filing period began Monday and ends Aug. 8. The Orange Unified School District Board of Trustees election will be Nov. 4.

Seats currently occupied by Martin Jacobson, Max Reissmueller, James Fearns and Rick Ledesma will be on the ballot. The seats are voted on at-large, but candidates must come from specified “trustee areas. “

Jacobson and Reissmueller have been at the center of a closely watched, controversial period for the Orange board. A “back to basics” philosophy favored by a majority of the board has resulted in such actions as the discontinuation of bilingual instruction for at least one year and the barring of on-campus psychological counseling services for students.

“I think social services will continue to be talked about,” said Jacobson, board president. “That and bilingual education very clearly seem to be issues that people care about. “

Jacobson, Ledesma and Fearns all said Monday that they intend to seek re-election. Reissmueller, who is said to be undecided about whether to run again, was unavailable for comment.

Ledesma agreed with Jacobson and Fearns that the district’s recent acquisition of a one-year waiver from the State Board of Educationallowing the district to conduct English-only classes will be examined closely during the campaign.

“The waiver is just for one year, so it will be an issue again very soon,” Ledesma said. He said growth also shapes up as a hot-button issue, with as many as five new schools needed over the next decade.

Fearns said the district’s student population is growing by about 3 percent per year, “and that will have to be dealt with. We have options, but some difficult decisions will have to be made. “

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