2008-09-19 / Community

Chuidian to focus on district finances and campus safety

By Michelle Knight knight@theacorn.com

Judith Chuidian is the only school board candidate running for both the Camarillo Unified and Pleasant Valley school boards.

By next summer, though, only one school district will exist.

If voters approve Measure U in November, the Camarillo Unified School District will replace the Pleasant Valley School District. The unified district would merge students from the Oxnard Union High School District with kindergartenthrougheighth-grade students from Pleasant Valley.

Chuidian, 44, said she decided to run for the Camarillo Unified board on the final filing date after discovering there were only five candidates for the fiveseat board.

"Oh, no, that's not democratic," she said. "I've got to run."

Although a candidate for the Pleasant Valley board, Chuidian said the board seat on Camarillo Unified is the one she wants the most. She supports unification but isn't running for that reason: She wants to make a difference in the education of Camarillo children whether Measure U passes or not, she said.

Judith Chuidian Judith Chuidian "My main objective is for Camarillo to have the best quality schools we can possibly have," she said.

The stay-at-home mother of an 8yearold daughter and a 12yearold son, Chuidian has been active in the parent-teacher organization at El Descanso Elementary for six years and president of its school site council for three years.

In that time, Chuidian said she's learned much about government policy and funding for such programs as Title 1 and special education. Her knowledge would be useful to either school district, she said.

Chuidian has a bachelor's degree in political science with an emphasis on communication and worked for several years in Washington, D.C., for the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond and the Secretary of Agriculture. When she later moved to Southern California, she met and married Sonny Chuidian, and the growing family moved to Camarillo nine years ago.

Her experiences at college and in Washington have taught her the art of negotiation, she said. "I'm very comfortable working with other people."

Chuidian said she's particularly interested in the financial aspect of the school district. She feels strongly that students should have the most uptodate education California has to offer. She'd like to see teacher-pay based on merit, paying more to teachers who go beyond what's expected of them, she said.

"I think that's the best way to see money spent," Chuidian said.

She is concerned about school gangs and a Columbinetype incident occurring here, she said. "Why are we waiting for that to happen? Let's nip it in the bud now and be prepared," she said.

If elected to the Pleasant Valley board, she said she'd bring fresh ideas to the dais. If unification passes, she'd bring to that school board a different perspective.

"I see me being an asset to a brand-new board because I haven't been entrenched in unification all these years," Chuidian said.

Judith and Sonny Chuidian have been married for 10 years.

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