Local Elections: Candidate Nancy Riddle Offers Experience to School Board

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She has a strong financial background and track record of work in the Berkeley Unified School District-but school board candidate Nancy Riddle is humble when she admits that she is the only candidate backed by both sides of Berkeley's political factions.

Riddle is one of five candidates running for only three spots on the Berkeley Board of Education.

Nancy Riddle

A UC Berkeley alumna and mother of two, Riddle says her experience as a financial analyst makes her the best choice to bring Berkeley Unified School District out of the red.

Riddle has been on several school district committees and is co-chair of the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program Planning and Oversight Committee, which allocates funds to reduce class size.

With no teaching experience, Riddle says her strengths come in organizing and managing.

She adds that her experience as a political organizer and on school district committees show a strong record of community involvement.

"I have been involved for 11 years in these committees and have worked a lot through the community," Riddle says. "I'm a financial professional, and the board is in a fiscal crisis."

Riddle says her background will allow her to focus on long-term planning, budgeting at a detailed level and analyze the cost of each program for students-all important to restoring the budget.

"I have a good reputation with being very credible and careful and have been able to work in different parts of Berkeley," she says. "I think that's good for the school board because I don't think it should be political."

Riddle says important programs shouldn't be cut in solving the budget crisis.

"We have to make sure, given we don't have unlimited resources, that our funds are going to programs that are most effective for our kids," she says.

Despite increasing state- and federally mandated standardized tests and accountability measures, Riddle says she does not support the High School Exit Exam, scheduled to begin in 2004.

She adds that standardized tests should be used to evaluate student performance.

"I'm not in favor of high stakes testing," she says. "It's the adults' fault if students don't pass. We should be looking at their test scores all the way through."

City Councilmember Kriss Worthington supports Riddle's campaign and says her diverse background will benefit the school board. The school board lacks experience in areas such as the budget, of which Riddle has solid knowledge, he says.

"Her budget experience and ability to work with both sides of the political spectrum will be a big addition to the board," he says. "Her experience distinguishes her. That's why she has a width and depth of endorsements, because she has skills that are explicitly needed on the board."

Riddle is backed by mayoral candidates Tom Bates and Shirley Dean and is endorsed by organizations such as the Berkeley Citizens Action, Berkeley Democratic Club and Berkeley Federation of Teachers.

Worthington says Riddle's lack of elected experience does not mean she cannot address the issues.

"Her job and (volunteer) experience are a sufficient combination," he says.


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