It seems everything is more challenging today, but nothing more so than running local schools.

The pandemic has called into question every aspect of public education. When will it be safe to put children together in a classroom environment? What about teachers and administrators, some of whom are at greater risk due to age or preexisting medical conditions? How do you educate children away from the classroom then? What about those without reliable technology, whose parents are less able to help? The answers are literally a matter of life and death, and that is to say nothing of the perennial problems, including how to pay for it all in a district where the cost of living outstrips the tax base.

We are therefore lucky that anyone would seek a seat on the Cabrillo Unified School District board of governors, which oversees public education from Montara to Half Moon Bay. And we have two candidates for Trustee Area B, one of four new voting areas carved out of what had been an at-large voting district. El Granada and the Highway 92 corridor make up most of the district within a district.

We recommend reelecting Kim Hines to the position.

Hines was first elected to the board in 2016. She has applicable and impressive academic credentials, including advanced degrees in product design and organizational psychology. She is currently the president of the school board, and as such has been navigating incredibly choppy waters of late.

She doesn’t have all the answers. Who does? But she has experience both as a classroom teacher and elected official and projects a calm competence. She understands the difficulties for students, teachers, parents and administrators in 2020. In our interview, she suggested “leaning into the possibilities,” including project-based learning that could take a student out of her usual hourlong class routine for a deep dive in a subject she loves. She would rather focus on opportunities for learning than the “learning loss assessments” that are also necessary but less apt to inspire Coastside kids.

She also understands the very real need for better teacher compensation. That doesn’t mean there is an easy answer in the cash-strapped district that takes in much less money than many similar districts over the hill. She suggested a “locality index” that would tune state spending to the cost of living in specific parts of the state. While that may not happen any time soon, it’s worth pursuing.

Her challenger is David Seaton, a Coastside native whose love for the area and its schools is obvious to anyone who meets him. He is a father first, and his child would have entered kindergarten this year if not for the coronavirus. Instead, his family has cobbled together an education plan it feels is right for the moment.

Seaton sings the praises of individual teachers and administrators in the district, but says there is “a culture of low expectations” at Cabrillo that affected his own education. If elected, he would provide a worthwhile perspective as a graduate of district schools and parent of a young child.

However, he failed to articulate a cohesive vision for the district and the place he would have in it as an elected official. He said he would be an alternative voice and an antidote to the “group think” he thinks prevents innovative ideas. While that is important, it is even more important at this moment that board members work together to forge a path that will necessarily be both uphill and potholed. It is not enough to be an outside voice.

Importantly, Hines sees her job, in part, as hearing from a wide range of constituents and then leading toward a solution that is best for all. She understands the complexity of the funding formula and knows the travails of teaching firsthand.

We are lucky to have such a qualified candidate at such a difficult time.

— Review editorial board

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