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Newcomers Join Race for School Board

By Rita Robinson | LB Indy

At the 11th hour deadline, two newcomers officially became candidates for the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Directors, meeting the Orange County Registrar’s Wednesday filing deadline.

Carol Normandin will join another first-time contender, Annette Gibson, and two other candidates in vying for three positions available on the five-member school board. Ketta Brown and return contender Dee Perry are also in the race, announcing their candidacies last month.

Unexpectedly, school board incumbents Betsy Jenkins and Theresa O’Hare will not seek re-election. Both missed last Friday’s deadline for incumbents to file candidacy papers with the registrar’s office, though neither made a formal announcement.

Jenkins has served 12 years or three four-year terms, starting in 2002, and O’Hare has served eight years or two terms, starting in 2006.

In an emailed statement announcing her candidacy, Normandin described herself as a parent with three children enrolled in each level of the district’s schools, which she said “gives her first-hand insight of what students and families are experiencing throughout their academic career in Laguna Beach.”

She said her priorities are to ensure that school dollars are spent on students’ academic success and hiring teachers where needed. She listed her credits as having obtained a bachelor’s degree in management from Texas A&M University and owning a recruiting business for more than 10 years.  She also recently served as a volunteer for eight years for Schoolpower, a local nonprofit that provides funds to support Laguna’s public schools. Normandin chaired its annual community fundraising campaign, “which significantly benefitted our district, its teachers and the academic well-being of all students in our district.” Normandin lives near the high school.

Gibson also raises issues with spending tax dollars on administrative salaries and new executive positions. She cited a criticism voiced by others as well that the district as and its board are “not open enough with the public; they make a lot of decisions behind closed doors,” Gibson said in a telephone interview.

Born Annette Nunez, Gibson is an eighth-generation Californian and said she spent much of her summers in Laguna Beach. She graduated from Whittier High School and earned a nursing degree from the L.A. County School of Nursing at USC and a bachelor of science in nursing from Cal-State Dominguez Hills, she stated in a press release. She lives in Newport Coast.

Jenkins and O’Hare could not be reached for comment.

School board president Jan Vickers said she understood that O’Hare distributed an email announcing her decision not to run, though Vickers had not received it. She said she believed Jenkins was ready to move on to something else after a long run on the school board. Both incumbents were elected when their children were still enrolled in Laguna schools, and both remained on the board long after their children graduated.

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