By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers
The Cold Spring School District, a basic aid, single elementary school district located on Sycamore Canyon Road, may be small in size, but in recent years has encountered a large amount of controversy.
Community argument, some of it downright nasty, in great measure played out on social media platforms like “Nextdoor” and focused on the ultimately unsuccessful effort by district leaders to pass a bond measure to upgrade dilapidated classroom facilities.
The bond measure campaign generated conflict, discord and strife, as some neighbors hurled allegations of long time fiscal mismanagement and purported conflicts of interest, leaving elected leaders and administrators to play defense.
With three seats on the Cold Spring governing board up in the November 8 election, the district now not only faces the same financial need for capital improvements, but also the political challenge of communicating more effectively in trying to gain support from community members without a direct stake in the school, in the form of kids who attend it.
In partnership with the Montecito Journal, Newsmakers on Tuesday convened a forum to discuss these and other educational issues with candidates for the Cold Spring district board. Three of the four contenders — incumbents Michael Marino and Jennifer Miller, along with challenger Elke Kane – participated in a wide-ranging discussion about matters from budget reserves and curriculum to literacy and school safety. Erika Kellis, the fourth candidate on the ballot, was unavailable for the event.
— Jerry Roberts and Gwyn Lurie