Steve DePue, currently president of the local school board, is running against opponent Jim Brown of Cool for the BOMUSD’s Trustee Area 2′s short-term seat.
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DePue of Greenwood is a 34-year resident of the Divide, with a long history in education. He has two children (both GSHS graduates) with his wife, Peggy. DePue was one of the original teachers at Golden Sierra in 1978 when the school opened, working there until 1999 when he took a position with the California Teacher’s Association. At GSHS he taught wood shop, auto shop, metal and ROP construction and drafting, and also taught Kindergarten for five years at Georgetown and Creekside elementary schools.
“I have been a lifetime educator and believe whole-heartedly in public education,” said DePue. “The last four years have been very difficult, probably the hardest public education has ever seen.”
DePue’s primary responsibility with the California Teacher’s Association is managing budgets. “I handle finance for school districts all over the state of California,” he said. “One of my biggest objectives as a board member for BOMUSD is to have short-term, mid-term and long-term visionary goals. BOMUSD has had a lot of turnover in the last few years, and it’s taken some time to get things back on track. We are just getting to a position of being able to take the Board in a forward facing direction.”
His primary objective is to maintain the direction the school district is going in balancing the budget and maintaining financial solidity. He said, “Our district has a long-term history with success of our educational programs.”
Currently, one of the biggest changes in the district that residents are talking about is the development of a middle school (junior high) from the two elementary school’s seventh and eighth-grade classes.
“The district has tried several times to develop a middle school, but did not have the location or the finances to build it,” DePue said. “K through 8 has been a good model, but we no longer have the population to support programs at both schools (Georgetown and Northside). The consolidation was necessary to be able to provide a broader program for students. The compartmentalized middle school/junior high allows the students to have more electives and opportunities.”
As a member of the board for the past two years, DePue said, “I have promoted long-term planning and I have brought the district closer to a financial balance. These are very difficult times for public education and we need the support of the community to build strong schools.”
Brown is a husband, father and a business owner on the Divide, where he’s lived for the last 15 years. Brown said his primary motivation for running is his 7-year-old daughter.
“I have a vested interest in the district running efficiently for at least the next 10 years,” he said. “No current (board) members have young children in school.”
Brown owns and operates Cool Fitness and said managing the budget is critical, but only so long as primary goals are kept in consideration.
“Meetings of late are very emotional, and often parents have no idea what the agenda includes or what decisions were made, especially after the closed door meetings,” he said. “Parents have a right to be kept informed of the happenings. Very large decisions have been made and executed without parent involvement.”
Brown provided an example. “We don’t need solar panels when our class sizes are too large and the students have no text books,” he said, adding that he believes reducing class sizes, improving the education environment and improving communication between parents and the board should be the primary objectives.
Brown said the decision to merge the middle school has caused a lot of frustrated parents to move their children to districts off the Divide. According to him, bus schedules and financial resources were impacted during the creation and merging of the middle school.
“If I am elected, I can ensure the parents will have a voice, and they will get the information they need,” Brown said.