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Debate addresses school facilities, programs

Costa Mesa United brought together City Council, school board candidates for the upcoming election.

October 07, 2010|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com
  • Jim Righeimer speaks during a candidate forum for the Costa Mesa City Council and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education at the Neighborhood Community Center on Wednesday.
Jim Righeimer speaks during a candidate forum for the… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Editor's note: This adds the names of the other candidates in the photo caption.

COSTA MESA — A popular after-school program, sports fields and quality of education were discussed Wednesday night at a candidate forum hosted by a local nonprofit.

Costa Mesa United invited candidates for the City Council and school board to share their plans for "academics, athletics and activities" at the Neighborhood Community Center. The panelists were Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis, Sports Editor Steve Virgen and Publisher Tom Johnson of the Newport Beach Independent.

Loretta Zimmerman, who is running for a school district seat in Area 5, stressed the need to keep students in this district.

Some parents here would rather send their children to private schools or schools in Huntington Beach, she said.

"Costa Mesa has a world-class shopping center, a world-class performing arts center, private and public golf courses, athletic facilities. It has areas with million-dollar homes, and it's the envy for many, many communities," said Zimmerman, who is challenging 30-year board member Judy Franco.

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But something is missing from the discussion, Zimmerman said.

"We need to look at schools," she said. "That's the thing — when you have excellent schools that are performing well, parents want to send their children to these schools."

The other school board candidates agreed.

Councilwoman Katrina Foley, who's challenging school board incumbent Mike Collier in Area 2, said, "We don't do a good job of promoting our schools."

Foley added that schools should partner more with the cities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, businesses and various organizations to promote their campuses and enrich student experiences.

Reading from a statement, Franco said the district needs to ensure that kids are "learning what we taught them."

"This century is theirs; not mine, not yours, but theirs," she said. "We need to provide rigorous course programs for the students in all of our schools."

Collier said it's important to look at the students as individuals and to collect data to measure their needs and their success. He said many people might not be aware that a high percentage of students from Estancia High went on to attend college.

"It's an interesting concept, thinking about Westside schools," he said.

When asked to grade school sports fields, council candidate Jim Righeimer gave Jim Scott Stadium an A, and gave the others lower marks.

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