Two seats open for SUHSD Board of Education Trustee elections


Laurinne Eugenio

English Professor at Miramar College Adrian Arancibia, Ed.D., is running for Area 2 Trustee in the Board of Education Trustee elections. At Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD), two seats—Area 2 Trustee and Area 4 Trustee—are up for general election on Nov. 3.

Two seats on the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) Board of Education Trustee Area 2 in California are up for general election on Nov. 3. There are two seats open in the Area 2 district, one of which is occupied by Board of Trustees President Nicholas Segura, who is running unopposed. There are three candidates running for the position that is currently being held by Trustee Kevin Pike, who is not running for re-election but represents Bonita Vista High families.

After numerous attempts in trying to reach Pike through email, Pike failed to respond. 

English Professor at Miramar College Adrian Arancibia Ed.D., ran for the SUHSD board position back in 2014. However, he was “168 votes short in [about] a 22,000 foot race.” 

Arancibia does however have a deep connection with the SUHSD community. He is an alumnus of Bonita Vista High (BVH), he served as the coach of the basketball team at Eastlake High and worked as a substitute teacher within SUHSD for about a year. Arancibia explained that his daughters played a big role in his decision of running for the upcoming election. His daughters have expressed their concern about the implications of the recent budget cuts such as numerous teachers being laid off or involuntarily transferred. 

“I’m not happy about [teachers being laid off or relocated] at all. We [SUHSD community] want to keep teachers in the profession. We want to make sure that they’re protected and that they keep nurturing students. Teachers are inspiring students and helping them succeed. That’s priceless. I think we want to make sure that those teachers stay on the sites where they’re doing great work,” Arancibia said.

Teacher at the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Cindy Lopez is also running for the upcoming election. According to Lopez, her role as a teacher will, “provide insight into how our votes affect students and staff.” She strongly believes that an educator should be on the board because they understand what is going on in virtual classrooms. In addition to being a teacher, she has relatives who have been affected by the decisions of the board members. After witnessing how the actions of the board can impact students, she decided to run.

After repeated efforts in trying to get in contact with Sandra Smith who is also running for candidacy in the forthcoming general election, Smith failed to respond.

Two key concepts that Arancibia focuses on when campaigning for the election are increasing  transparency and clarity in order to ensure economic sustainability. Arancibia explained that transparency is crucial because “that’s one of the issues I had with the last administration. It wasn’t very transparent, [especially] as to what the numbers [regarding the fiscal budget] were.”

“We have to find a baseline economically for the district to be sustainable; to survive,” Arancibia said. “Unfortunately, nobody ever did [an audit]. Now we have an audit, done by the county and the county says that we’re really in the red. That kind of inability to have clarity and communication with regards to where we’re at with numbers was a really troubling one.”

Arancibia and Lopez both feel that the one of the most fundamental issues that needs to be addressed in the district is balancing its monetary budget. Lopez wants “to closely look at where the funding is going, [like to] programs [and] services and start looking at whether to move funds around or search for different sources of revenue.” On the same page, Arancibia wants to “take care of things like the performing arts center over at BVH,” because he sees it “falling apart” and in need of a long term solution.

Furthermore, Arancibia plans to mitigate the impacts of problems plaguing the district by sparking meaningful conversations and working together as a community. 

“Communicating with parents, the administration and teachers to see where we’re at and be really clear [is important], so there’s no questions,” Arancibia said. “Transparency and clarity are really important, so we have to work as a board to ensure that we’re getting the information.”

Apart from making both transparency and clarity a priority, Arancibia furthers by saying that in order to hold the district accountable for their actions, he would need to lead by example. 

“I have to be accountable myself. Leading by example, showing folks that we are better than we have been and that we have to live up to those expectations,” Arancibia said. “I’m looking forward to having discussions with folks; I’m going to explain to them in a way that makes sense.”

Along with being a board member comes the responsibility of assigning a superintendent. For Lopez, a person who has an “educational background” would be her choice.

“Our next superintendent should have the ability to lead with integrity and vision. We need a superintendent that will know where our district should head towards and take concrete, measurable action steps to get there,” Lopez said.

Lopez elaborates that it’s very important to build relationships with students, families and other colleagues so that they hold her to her words. Understanding the different situations is very important in supporting students. To be able to understand the situation, Lopez has to build communication with them. 

“I attest that every student has different needs and we need to ensure that they are receiving the support, learning and services they need to succeed. We can’t continue to do a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model; that’s not an equitable approach,” Lopez said.

Overall, in spite of the official election day coming closer, Arancibia emphasized the importance of  moments of unity and hope, considering the current circumstances everyone in the community is experiencing. 

“My brother has been saying this lately: ‘Ours is not a caravan of despair,’ meaning [that] we always need to have hope, maintain our chin up and remind ourselves of our better selves; not looking focused or critique the worst of us [and] remind us of what good things we have here,” Arancibia said. “The more we do that, the more successful we are and the more capacity we’ll have to be able to love each other and actually build something better.”