Bob Whalen: Not done with work on school board

October 18, 2002

Robert Whalen has unfinished business on the Laguna Beach Unified

School District Board of Education.

"I feel a tremendous responsibility to see [the construction]

through," he said. "I want to make sure it gets done in accordance

with the plan that the community approved," he said.

Actively involved in the district since his now 19-year-old

daughter started kindergarten, Whalen wants to focus on a curriculum


that not only better prepares students for college, but also for a

more global society.


1. Will the board continue to oversee the details of the ongoing

construction at the schools?

Absolutely. I am running for re-election in large part because I

feel a deep responsibility to the community to bring the

reconstruction effort in on time and under budget. As the chair of

the District Facilities Committee from its inception in 1998, I have

an in-depth understanding of the planning that went into the

rebuilding program and of what we need to do to implement that plan.

The board receives detailed spreadsheets and updates on the

construction progress weekly. Finally, the Independent Citizens

Oversight Committee, consisting of a broad spectrum of community

members, will provide valuable information to assist the board in its

oversight responsibility.

2. How will the board ensure the district's financial health in an

uncertain economy?

The board has already taken the critical first step by

methodically rebuilding the district's reserve fund over the last

five years. When I joined the board in 1997, reserves were at zero. I

advocated strongly for building a prudent reserve to guard against

economic downturns. I am proud to say that we have built our reserves

to nearly $6 million, which will enable us to ride out the current

difficult economic environment. The board has also moved aggressively

to cut costs through better purchasing practices and more efficient

energy use at our schools.

3. Do you feel that classroom size is an important issue at our

elementary schools?

Small class sizes at the elementary level is critical to the

youngest students. The district has implemented a 20-1

student-to-teacher class size for kindergarten through third grade.

These smaller class sizes have greatly helped students advance more

quickly in reading and math because it allows much more individual

attention for students. Although the state funding for this program

no longer covers the cost to the district, the board has continued to

fund this program because of its substantial educational benefits.

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