CASTAIC – They crowded the room, eyes on the stage, waiting for 7 p.m. The group of about 55 looked like any other crowd that could be waiting for a concert to start or for a play to begin. But it was a candidate forum for the Castaic Union School District on Tuesday that drew them out. Mainly teachers and parents, they came to hear what the six hopefuls had to say about new schools, instructional materials and test scores. The candidates are Robert Allen, Susan Christopher, John Kunak, Angela Marler, Laura Pearson and Steve Teeman. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week With three out of five school board seats on the Nov. 8 ballot, the stakes are high. The election could bring a new majority to the board, and people like Sue Jackson are paying close attention. The Northlake Hills Elementary School teacher said the district needs a board that understands what goes on inside classrooms and the work that’s put into it. She was pleased with what she heard at the meeting and planned to share the news with other teachers who couldn’t attend. “Teachers have to know that we’re supported,” the second-grade teacher said. “Teachers are interested because it’s a majority.” For nearly two hours, contenders answered questions that reflected their positions on educational and district-related issues. Do you support unification of the school district? Should the board maintain a reserve in the budget? What characteristics do you look for in a superintendent? But it was answers about the No Child Left Behind act that stoked the largest audience response. The district is on probation for previous test scores, and candidates were asked how they would address the challenge. No Child Left Behind, a federal law, requires states to annually test students in English and math from third grade through high school in exchange for federal dollars. The testing system recognizes scores, not improvement, as success, and has come under fire by many educators who measure achievement differently. Second-language learners and special education students, for example, can make great strides at school, but still not pass the test. Educators say it’s not fair that the federal system doesn’t consider that. Incumbent Kunak said the district receives so little in federal funding anyway that it could almost do without it, because there’s no way the school system can achieve the test scores with the resources it has. He said it will take hard work to overcome that. “They’ve basically set everything up to fail, and there’s no way around it,” Kunak said. Calling the law well-intended, candidate Christopher said it’s also unworkable. She said the district will have to find its way to success. The crowd applauded. “It’s a process, just like the law,” Christopher said. “We need to do some refinement.” Candidate Teeman pointed out that some districts are passing the exam and doing quite well. He wondered what they are doing differently from the Castaic Union School District and recommended assigning a task force to check it out. His response was received with some applause. “Let’s fight this battle,” Teeman said. Sitting in the second row, Renee Fowler said the district has many changes coming in the future, and she came to hear how the hopefuls will handle them. With a child in elementary school, the Castaic woman said their decisions will effect her daughter’s education for years to come. “Anyone who has a child in the school district has a vested interest and should force themselves off the couch to come listen,” she said. Sue Doyle, (661) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!