Two candidates have applied for the open seat vacated by Ken Davis on the Lodi Unified School District Board of Trustees.
Gary Knackstedt, a retired teacher at Lodi High School for 37 years, also served as a tennis, cross-country and track and field coach, as well as athletic director for the high school.
“My entire career has been devoted to eduation, paticularly to Lodi Unified,” he said. Serving as a trustee feels like an extension of that process, he said.
A second candidate, Ralph Womack, is a retired police captain who served for 32 years with the Stockton Police Department.
“The opportunity came up suddenly, but it seems like a perfect opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up,” said Womack.
Three applications were submitted to the district office, but one did not make the deadline. Retired teacher Gregory Gores turned in his resume and letter of intent on Nov. 29, after the application period ended on Nov. 28 at noon. Both applicants are residents in Trustee Area Two, a region covering North Stockton.
A more detailed map of the area is available online at www.lodiusd.net. The appointment is provisional, ending in December 2012 at the completion of resigned trustee Ken Davis’ original term.
Davis stepped down from the board of trustees in October after he was linked to a grade changing scandal at Liberty High School.
Knackstedt, 63, has considered serving on the board of trustees since his retirement from Lodi High in 2009. His experience as athletic director led him to realize that he might enjoy working as a trustee. He also spent five years serving as treasurer for the Lodi Education Association.
He graduated from San Jose State University in 1971 with a dregree in business education, and recived his teaching credential the next year.
At Lodi High, Knackstedt was the last remaining business teacher, down from seven when he started in 1972. He is a major proponent of increasing hands-on vocational classes, and applauds the board’s steps in that direction.
“Not every kid who graduates high school is going to go to college,” he said. “To put them in classes where they aren’t going to be successful, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Knackstedt already has a litmus test in mind for how he will assess policies coming before the board for a vote.
“That’s what you have to keep in mind when making policy: is this good for students?” he said.
As a rookie to the board, Knackstedt would do his best to work with the current trustees, not against them.
“There’s seven votes. I only have one. I could be outvoted every time,” he said, adding that he will put his listening and collaborative skills to work.
Womack comes to the position with what he sees as a well-rounded package of experience.
“Between law enforcement, community mentorship and (crime) prevention, and my passion to see kids succeed, this will be a good opportunity,” he said. Womack didn’t consider running for the board until the position opened in October.
The 63-year-old graduated from California State Polytechnic University in 1991 with a master’s degree in management. His undergraduate work was completed at the University of San Francisco, where he majored in organizational behavior and graduated in 1989.
Womack’s background includes a stint in the Navy in the late 1960s. He joined the Stockton police force in 1973 after working with the police reserve in his hometown of Manteca. He as also worked as a pre-employment background investigator for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, he has worked as an adjunct professor at San Joaquin Delta College and the University of Phoenix, teaching criminal justice classes.
Currently, he works as a program manager for Operation Peacekeeper, a youth violence and gang prevention program for the city of Stockton. The job requires Womack to follow up with at-risk youth, giving him a close-up look at the bigger picture of connectivity among a child’s home, school and what they experience on the streets.
“I have a real soft spot for teachers,” said Womack, who sees them as the peacekeepers for students with potenially chaotic home lives. “They go through a lot of school, and come in wanting to educate young minds.”
Womack serves on the board of the Emergency Food Bank of Stockton/San Joaquin and is race director for the annual Run and Walk Against Hunger fundraiser.
If he were appointed, Womack plans to spend the first few months learning as much as he can from the current trustees. Once the provisional period is up, he would choose to run for a full term.
Knackstedt would also run for a complete term.