Gayle Eidelson has seven kids, but if she wins her bid for a spot on the Santa Barbara School Board, she’ll be responsible for 15,500 more. With 81 enrollment years between her kids so far — her youngest is only 12 — Eidelson also might be the district’s greatest source of institutional memory.
Having sent kids to Roosevelt (for 24 years), Washington, and Santa Barbara Junior High and High School, Eidelson said, “I feel like I’ve experienced a wide range of the schools. As things have evolved, I’ve been there.” Superintendents, principals, teachers, bilingual education — she’s seen them all come and go. Throughout, however, she’s remained dedicated to public schools, and her kids seem to have done well by them, the grown ones being Google execs, a civil rights attorney, and a med school student. A Bay Area native, Eidelson attended Berkeley and met her husband, Jon, there. They headed to Los Angeles for a short stint, where Jon picked up an MBA and Eidelson earned a teaching certificate before Jon found a job in S.B.
A veteran of the district’s Elementary and Secondary Parent Advisory committees who has served the schools in a number of volunteer capacities, Eidelson — a reluctant politician — was recruited to run by current trustee Kate Parker. Eidelson said that her chief goals are demanding a high level of academic rigor for all kids in the district while maintaining options for students with different learning styles and increasing parent involvement. Safety, as well, is of concern to her: “As a parent, as you let go of your children, you need to trust,” she said. “The schools are the largest factor in that trust.”