This Natomas School Board Race An Important One

A Look At The Candidates
This election year has been an exciting one in Natomas to say the least. First, a battle for the District One city council seat and now a race for school board.

Six candidates are vying for two seats on the Natomas Unified school board and the campaign is heating up with less than a week left to election day.

This election is an important one.

The Natomas Unified School District has seen a cut in state funds and, in turn, has had to boost class sizes and lay off teachers and other employees. Money is so tight, the district is on the verge of bankruptcy. And, unlike the last school board election, neither the Natomas teachers’ or classified unions endorse any candidate.

So who should you vote for? If you haven’t met any of the candidates face-to-face or attended either of the two candidate forums this past month, take a minute to read THE NATOMAS BUZZ’s election series featuring answers to reader questions.

Here is another look at the school board candidates, in the order their names appear on the Nov. 2 ballot:

C.E. “Celeste” White, 54, lives in North Natomas. For the past 15 years, she has taught 5th and 6th grade at John Bidwell Elementary School in South Sacramento. She previously worked as a 7th and 8th grade history teacher.
White currently has a child attending school in the Natomas Unified School District. This is her first run for school board.
“My son has attended Natomas schools for two years and each year he falls further and further behind,” she says. “Literally, I am running for the board to save my son. My son, like all other students in Natomas, has a right to a meaningful education.”
Adds White, “I have been in our schools and classrooms to discover our schools seem like they are in a time warp. The instructional system is archaic and crumbling; it needs to be fixed.”
White’s endorsements can be found at
As of Oct. 18, there were no campaign contributions on file with the Sacramento County Elections division.

Candidate Lisa Kaplan, 35, currently resides in North Natomas. She has worked a year as an assistant executive officer for the state Office of Public School Construction and previously as an attorney and consultant.
Incumbent Kaplan is running for her third term on the Natomas School board; she has been a school board member for seven years.
Kaplan does not have any children of her own, but says she considers all of Natomas’ 10,000 students her own.
“It’s all about the kids,” she says. “ As your school board trustee, I bring leadership, integrity, and accountability to the Natomas school district.”
Adds Kaplan, “For the past seven years, I have fought for our kids’ education. I am running for re-election to continue fighting for our kids’ education to make sure they come first.”
Kaplan’s endorsements can be found at

Candidate Teri Burns, 52, lives on Garden Highway. She has worked as a school district legislative advocate for the past six years and as Deputy Superintendent for the California State Department of Education for six years before that.
Burns has no children in Natomas schools, but says she attends graduations, back-to-school nights, sporting events and spelling bees.
“I treat all 10,000 (students) as though they are mine,” she says.
Incumbent Burns has served on the Natomas school board for 24 years; she currently is president of the school board. This is Burns seventh run for a school board seat and wants to continue serving because:

“I fought hard to bring important programs like class-size reduction and career technical education to our district. I’ve helped the district keep up with school construction as it has grown rapidly. I have a wealth of experience in education programs and finance that will serve the district in the difficult years ahead.”
Burns’ endorsements can be found at

Candidate H.K. Allen, 33, lives in South Natomas. He is an associate governmental program analyst for the state Department of Health Care Services.
This is Allen’s first run for Natomas school board. His daughter is a 3rd grader at American Lakes Elementary School.
“I am running to make a difference,” says Allen. “I’m running so that parents, students, and teachers know they will have an advocate on the board – someone who understands that shutting down a school and laying off teachers does more of a disservice to our community as a whole than the meager benefit of saving a few dollars for the district.”
Adds Allen, “I am pursuing a seat on the Natomas Unified School District board of trustees to be someone who can say ‘yes’ to parents’ expectations, students’ dreams, and teachers’ passion to educate, while saying ‘no’ to overspending.”

Allen’s endorsements can be found at
As of Oct. 18, there were no campaign contributions on file with the Sacramento County Elections division.

Candidate Patricia Adams, 45, lives in North Natomas. She has worked 10 years as a a senior compliance representative at the state Franchise Tax Board.
Adams has two children who attended Natomas Unified School District schools starting in kindergarten. One child graduated from Inderkum High School in 2009 where the second is currently a senior.
Adams ran for a Natomas school board seat in 2008 and is running again because, “I care about what happens to the students in this district. We have failed to educate our students on many levels and I want to ensure that every student has access to the highest level of education that they deserve.”
Adds Adams, “Our district is at a crossroads. It needs visionaries that can be trusted who are going to work hard for all students, teachers and parents. If the board continues to do what it has always done, we as a community will get what we always got: bad board decisions, poor student test scores, poor teacher support, and limited instructional resources.”

Adams’ endorsements can be found at
As of Oct. 18, there were no campaign contributions on file with the Sacramento County Elections division.

Candidate Ryan Herche, 25, lives in South Natomas. For the last three years he has worked as a speech and debate coach for Training Minds Ministry.
This is Herche’s first run for a seat on the Natomas school board. He currently does not have any children attending Natomas schools, but is looking forward to it.
“I’m running for school board so that every child in Natomas can receive the best education possible,” he says. “My wife and I plan to have children, and we want our children to have great choices right here in our school district.”
Adds Herche, “We have a responsibility to educate the next generation.”

Herche’s endorsements can be found at
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