Our school board candidates forum last night was phenomenal, thanks to all of you! We were amazed by the turnout and the energy in what is supposedly a sleepy race. I had to tell the crowd not to applaud a few times — which is a heck of a lot better than having to tell them not to fall asleep.

Unfortunately, I forgot last night to thank reader and former school board member Frances O’Neill Zimmerman, who convinced me that we needed to do something like this. Thanks for the great idea!

If you didn’t make it, we’ll have the audio available on the website soon. In the meantime, you can check out this Twitter feed for commentary from parent Paul Bowers. I’m still sorting through the audio and my notes, but here are some quick impressions and points from the forum:

Financial consultant Scott Barnett is going on the offensive against incumbent board member John de Beck in a big way — and de Beck is fighting back. Both dropped the phrase “my opponent” more than a few times. Their most striking tete-a-tete? An argument over how to handle unused cafeteria food.

Board member Katherine Nakamura said she’d back an effort to stop laying off teachers solely based on seniority “in a heartbeat.” Her challenger Kevin Beiser, a middle school math teacher, argued that if that means just getting rid of teachers based on test scores, it’s an overly simplistic idea.

Stephen Rosen, who is also vying to unseat Nakamura, said he wouldn’t back a parcel tax for San Diego schools, calling it part of a “tax-and-spend mentality.” Nakamura said she hadn’t decided either way. Beiser said any such tax should go “100 percent” to reducing class sizes, a centerpiece of his campaign.

Reader Alison Lee asked us to question Michelle Crisci about why she should be taken seriously as a candidate, since she’s in the race to bump out Barnett in the November election. Crisci said that whoever wins, they should be a member of the community they represent. Barnett lives in Little Italy, which is in the subdistrict up for grabs, but sends his children to school in University City.

What did you think? Who impressed you and who left you cold? I’m looking for readers to blog about their impressions of the candidates — who they’re voting for and why. I’m most interested in hearing from folks who were undecided before the forum. Shoot me an e-mail with your thoughts and let’s talk.

And don’t forget — we’re also taking your suggestions for any statements you heard that need a fact check.


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