With two seats coming open on the Culver City Unified School Board, there are now two contenders in the race; incumbent Dr. Kelly Kent will be vying for re-election, and former school board member Scott Zeidman declared this past week that he will join the contest.
Kent, who ran a virtual town hall online to discuss her campaign on July 19, 2020, has been on the board since 2015. As there are no term limits, incumbents have ample space to stay on the school board as long as they wish.
Not many choose to return for a second term, and Zeidman’s announcement this week was surprising to many. “It wasn’t a decision that came easy,” Zeidman offered. “I was contacted by numerous stakeholders and asked to step up and run again. After speaking with my wife Aileen, and my sons Jason and Brandon, and after reviewing a pile of documents, I felt that I could help the District.”
Kent, who was the top vote-getter in her initial run in 2015, has been active in focusing community food relief towards CCUSD families during the pandemic. Partnering with Lisa Schultz of the Peace Project/Whole 9 Gallery, the weekly distribution of groceries ran through July, and offered food to CCUSD families in need.
Kent also been overseeing, as have all current board members, moving classes online to support learning through the continued crisis. In a recent interview she said, “After that rapid pivot this Spring, that none of us were prepared for … we have to make sure that every student has a device, every student has internet access … and that we have a fully functional instructional model.”
Zeidman, who was on the Board of Education from 2007-2011, is kicking off his campaign with a focus on finances. “I left the School Board in 2011 with a balanced budget. That year, we received $34.7 million in unrestricted funds. Over the past four years, the District has received an average of over $59 million in unrestricted funds, yet is spending more than it receives… The Board needs an experienced, innovative leader to help navigate through that process.”
With the school board election, like the municipal election, happening for the first time on the same date as the national, state and county contests, it’s a very safe bet that more people will be voting for the school board than ever have in Culver City’s history. What the numbers will be like for these candidates may offer a new era of connection and accountability for community members, parents and schools.