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New board may improve union, CUSD relations
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The complexion of the Ceres School Board changes Thursday with the installation of two new trustees, Jim Kinard and Faye Lane.

The election of two more labor-backed candidates on Nov. 6 changes the composition of the board, but will it actually change the politics of the way the district is governed?

Two of three candidates backed by the Ceres Unified Teachers Association won election. Retired teacher Jim Kinard and retired classified employee Faye Lane defeated incumbents Yvette Nunes and Diane Sol, considered staunch supporters of Superintendent Walt Hanline. However, the third CUTA backed candidate, Donald McKim, was a long shot from unseating Eric Ingwerson, the newly appointed incumbent.

Hanline believes the new trustees to exhibit the professionalism they did while employed by the Ceres Unified School District.

"Mr. Kinard cares deeply about kids and anyone who cares deeply for kids I think I can work with," said Hanline. "Mr. Kinard and Mrs. Lane are class acts and they understand that you don't always have to see eye to eye to move forward."

The teachers' union has been successful in getting candidates it supports elected. They supported Teresa Guerrero and Betty Davis in 2005 and both won. Davis is a retired teacher.

"We're going to be okay," said incumbent trustee Bill Berryhill. "The quality of the candidates in this election was pretty solid. It hurts losing two but we have two good ones coming on."

Berryhill predicted that the board would probably foster a "better relationship" with the unions because of the two new trustees. But he predicted little change in the animosity he says the CUTA leadership harbors against CUSD administration.

With two years left before his retirement, Hanline, ever the overanalyzer, said he doesn't believe the new board will be asking him to leave.

"I have not gotten a hint that's the case," said Hanline. "I don't think they have an agenda of removing the present administration."

Hanline believes that Kinard and Lane won because of hard campaigning and the behind-the-scenes work of the CSEA, the classified employees union.

"The CSEA, as I understand it, was very organized. Both Mrs. Lane and Mr. Kinard worked every precinct and worked hard at the election."

He said he suspects voters believed some of the "rhetoric of the teachers' association" when they turned out Diane Sol and Yvette Nunes. Specifically, Hanline said there is a public perception that there is a climate of antagonism that exists between teachers and administration.

"If you had an environment of antagonism and hurt and pain... you can't have the results we are having," said Hanline. "The rhetoric of the union has shielded the public from the excellence of our schools."

Berryhill believes there will always be tension between the union leaders and administrators.

"I think there will always be that animosity," said Berryhill. "But the majority of the teachers in Ceres are very happy and just want to do their job. We have raised teachers' salaries. They used to be on the bottom and now we're in the middle to upper half. There is no big discontent."

"This environment was here before I got here seven years ago," said Hanline. "Just ask my predecessor."

The animosity is so great, he said, that mediator Shirley Campbell won't come here to negotiate with CUTA but will with the CSEA. With just two years left in his contract - he plans on retiring after that - Hanline said the new board has an opportunity to reach a better understanding of one another and do it in a respectful manner.

"I'm tired of it. This is not necessary. I don't think people know how bad it is. This is not good so we need to change. Our differences need to be handled within the family and not trashing one another in a public forum. It's counterproductive to what we want.

The Courier was unable to reach Lane nor Kinard.