Two candidates with a long history in the Pleasanton school system have joined the race for election to the school board on Nov. 8 where they will compete with two incumbents for the three seats on the board.
Retired Hart Middle School principal Steve Maher and former Pleasanton school board member Kathleen Ruegsegger, at one time an executive assistant to superintendents in both the Pleasanton and Palo Alto school districts, are seeking election to the board.
Board members Jamie Hintzke and Valerie Arkin declared their candidacies for re-election earlier. Board member Chris Grant plans to step down after serving nine-and-a-half years on the board.
Ruegsegger formally filed election papers with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' office on Monday. Maher was meeting with the registrar's office personnel Wednesday to complete the filing process.
Maher was Pleasanton's longest-serving principal when he retired and had both taught and served as principal at more schools than anyone else in the district - ever. During the six years since his retirement he has continued to serve as a interim-principal in four schools in the district.
He holds a Master's degree in Education and a teaching certificate from Cal State University. He taught at Fairlands, Alisal, Vintage Hills and Donlon elementary schools, and was principal at Vintage Hills for three years, Alisal for five years, Donlon for six, and at the new Pleasanton Middle School from 1996 to 1999, when he moved to Hart.
He also coached girls' varsity basketball and championship teams at Foothill High School for seven years. His wife Tina, also retired, was a senior administrator at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. They have three daughters. Lindsay and Kelly are teachers and Shay is a principal.
Ruegsegger moved to Pleasanton from Denver in 1985 and became immediately involved in activities at Walnut Grove Elementary School and Amador Valley High School, which her three children attended. She became co-chair of CASA (Community Against Substance Abuse), secretary of PLACE (Pleasanton Legislative Action Committee) and a member of the Walnut Grove school site council and president of the school's parent organization.
She also worked for unification, followed and lobbied regarding education legislation and for myriad fundraisers.
When school board president Earnestine Schneider died in August 1990, Ruegsegger was appointed to fill out the remaining 14 months of Mrs. Schneider's term and until 1993.
Ruegsegger said that as a school board member, she will be able to leverage her nearly 20 years of experience working as a staff member in K-12 education and her three previous years as a Pleasanton school board member.
She believes the district can maintain its current excellence by increasing its connection with the community's ambitions for its children. She supports transparency and specificity in district reporting and communications and will seek more collaboration between the city and district to find shared projects that maximize tax dollars while greatly benefiting Pleasanton residents.
She recently addressed the Pleasanton board pointing to the need for at least one new elementary school, noting their inclusion of 62 portable/relocatable structures as permanent classrooms.
"This is a pivotal time to serve as a trustee with a new superintendent and key staff members in order to expand the momentum of the past year," Ruegsegger said. "This is a role I can easily step into, and I have the time to dedicate to the shared expectations of the governance team."
She added: "There must be broader communication in order to maintain our status as a leader in K-12 education, bringing together students, teachers, and administrators with our entire community. The point where we reach for the next level of excellence, from curriculum to facilities, is while we are already at the top."
Ruegsegger's three adult children attended Pleasanton schools, and she currently has a grandchild in the district. Starting from her active involvement at Walnut Grove 30 years ago, her experience includes the three years on the PUSD board and 16 years' experience working in the Pleasanton and Palo Alto K-12 public schools.
In 1998, Ruegsegger was hired by the Pleasanton district as executive assistant to work with newly-hired superintendent Mary Frances Callan. Four years later, she left Pleasanton to take the same position in the Palo Alto school district when Callan accepted the offer to become superintendent of schools there.
Callan retired in August 2007, but Ruegsegger stayed on, retiring from the Palo Alto school district in October 2015.
During that time, she worked with five superintendents, their key staff experts and more than two dozen board members, all of whom provided a variety of perspectives.
Arkin, who was first elected to the school board in November 2008, is one of three school board members whose terms expire this year. With Grant leaving, only Jamie Hintzke also is seeking re-election.
"As a parent of three children who went through Pleasanton's public school system, and as a long-time school volunteer, I understand the need to keep parents completely informed about decisions that will affect their children and that are being conducted using taxpayer money," Arkin said.
"During my two terms on the board, I am very proud of the great progress that we have made in improving the communications conduit between the district and the community," she added. "It is still a work in progress, but I will always continue to lobby for greater advances in the arena of communication."
She said high academic achievement is her priority as a school board member.
Hintzke attended Pleasanton public schools in her youth as have her two children. She is employed by the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency as a community relations coordinator and also works as program manager for the Alameda County Emergency Medical Services CPR program for seventh-graders.
From 2009-12, she served on the Alameda County School Boards Association as the vice president of education. She has also served as a trustee on the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program board, the California State PTA Board of Managers, as president of the PTAs at Alisal Elementary and Harvest Park Middle schools and on the Pleasanton PTA Council.
Hintzke is currently president of the Pleasanton school board, a position she also held in 2014. While on the board, she has lobbied for greater district transparency, tight financial control, a higher level of executive staff accountability, increased public and student involvement in district decisions, intervention programs and improved methods to better serve the needs of all students.
She said her priorities include ensuring that students reach their greatest potential by providing learning that is innovative, irresistible, creative, relevant and rigorous.
Grant said he is leaving the board because his professional responsibilities at Kaiser Permanente where he works have increased each year over the past decade and also because he believes change on the school board is good.
He was board president twice during his tenure and served on multiple committees, including the Excellence in Education Committee, of which he was a founding member. He was first appointed to the board in 2007, then elected to the board in November 2008, and re-elected in 2012 as were Hintzke and Arkin.