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Evans, Foster Lead In San Diego Unified School Board Race

Above: The four candidates for San Diego Unified School Board: Marne Foster, Bill Ponder, John Lee Evans and Mark Powell.

In the race for seats on the San Diego Unified School Board, Marne Foster is leading Bill Ponder, and John Lee Evans is leading Mark Powell.

Above: KPBS reporters tweeting on Election Day.

Although each candidate would represent a certain district in San Diego, voters from across the city weighed in on each election.

In District A, which stretches from Clairemont Mesa to Mira Mesa, current board president Evans is defending his seat against Powell, a realtor and former teacher and school administrator.

Ponder and Foster are in a contest for an open seat in District E left by Shelia Jackson, who opted not to run again. The district represents schools in Southeast San Diego neighborhoods like Paradise Hills, Skyline and Encanto.

The school district's funding comes largely from the state and managing cuts to that funding has dominated board business for years. Even if voters pass the tax increase Proposition 30, the district will likely face another shortfall next year.

Evans, a psychologist, is the only incumbent and said the board managed to recall 1,500 pink-slipped teachers this year by improving negotiating with employee unions - especially the teachers union.

Powell, a realtor and former teacher and school administrator, said he'd streamline the district's administration further and would have supported applying for direct federal funding.

Ponder, who worked as a public school teacher and community college and university instructor, said he would focus on bringing money into schools through grants and leasing unused property, but also said personnel costs have to be cut. Foster, an instructor and administrator for San Diego's community college district, said she would implement measures similar to those a majority of current board members have supported in the past.

Critics and would-be reformers of the San Diego Unified school board have said its current members are too closely aligned with the teachers union. Ponder and Powell attracted the endorsements of those in the business community. They also received an unusual endorsement from Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Board trustees manage a district with more than 13,000 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $1 billion -- roughly the same size as the city of San Diego's. They also have to develop policies that drive the education of more than 115,000 students in district-run schools.

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