The union representing teachers and other certified employees in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District announced Tuesday its support for three incumbents in the November school board election.

Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association is backing the re-election of Jose Escarce, Ben Allen and Maria Leon Vazquez, citing the need for experienced leadership and collaborative working relationships as schools face unprecedented challenges.

“Escarce, Allen, and Vazquez have shown their ability to lead effectively during these uncertain economic times,” said union President Harry Keiley. “We’re proud that during the past five years when K-12 funding has been cut by billions, we’ve been able to work with the Board of Education to protect vital services to students. When most California districts have eliminated programs, we have protected services for students, including elementary music, school nurses, and counselor-to-student ratios.”

The incumbents are facing off against three well-funded challengers — Craig Foster, Seth Jacobson and Karen Farrer — a group from Malibu who have called themselves the “reform slate.” They want to cut administration costs and break up the school district, with Malibu managing its own schools.

There are three seats at stake on the school board.

The Santa Monica-Malibu teachers’ union is affiliated with the 325,000 member California Teachers Association and the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.

The election is Nov. 6.

To learn more about the school board candidates, make sure to attend the Santa Monica Daily Press candidates forum, dubbed “Squirm Night,” which will be held Oct. 15 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium at the Main Library. School board candidates will be asked the tough questions.

The forum kicks off at 6 p.m. with a debate between Mayor Richard Bloom and Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, who are running to represent Santa Monica in the new 50th Assembly District.

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