Joshua Gottheim is a big fan of the La Cañada Unified School District, but he says he sees potential for improvement.
A land use attorney with an economics degree from Yale and a law degree from UC Berkeley, Gottheim is one of five candidates for three LCUSD Governing Board seats that will be up for a vote on Nov. 7.
“I’m very enthusiastic,” said Gottheim, the father of three LCUSD students; an 8th-grader and 2nd-grade twins at La Cañada Elementary.
Gottheim is an advocate for more self-directed, self-paced ways in which technology can be used to assist students learning math and science.
He thinks the district’s campuses need updating, much of which could be funded by Measure LCF, the $149-million general obligation bond that will be included on the Nov. 7 ballot.
And he thinks those types of improvements would help keep some of the students who opt for private schools within LCUSD, which consistently ranks as one of the top public school districts in the state.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of people and learning a lot,” he said in an interview last week. “The scope of issues that come before the board is pretty significant, from special needs kids to the bond issue, academics and performing arts — the whole world that takes up a lot of our kids’ days.”
Gottheim said he believes his experience representing the L.A. Community College District while it campaigned for and implemented a $2-billion bond would prove beneficial to LCUSD if it has the opportunity to put Measure LCF into effect.
“I worked for several years as the L.A. Community College District program was getting going on nine campuses,” he said. “I got to see what can go right and what can go wrong. This is a lot of money coming at the district, a district that hasn’t done significant projects (except for the athletic field) lately. They haven’t done $10- or $20-million projects in years, and you can get into all kinds of cost overruns, contract lawsuits and so the board is going to be seeing a lot of that materialize and putting in place a lot of the contracts, and hiring the program manager.
“Hopefully I can help avoid some pitfalls.”
He’s also a proponent of the measure: “These improvements will last for decades,” he said. “And I love the fact that the money is going mostly to classrooms.”
Gottheim hails from a family of teachers: His grandparents were public school teachers in New York City schools, his mother is an art teacher and artist and his dad, a filmmaker, started the cinema department at SUNY Binghamton during his tenure as a professor there.
“I come from an arts background and a teaching background and, of course,” he joked, “I rebelled and majored in economics at Yale and went to law school at Berkeley.”
More recently, Gottheim has signed on to coach the Science Olympiad program for the past three years and is proud to say “we’ve gone down to Occidental College and brought back gold medals for the elementary and middle schools!”
Gottheim has never run for office before, and he thought hard before deciding to join this race. So far, he said, he’s enjoyed his time as a candidate — including meeting his opponents.
“Everyone I meet who’s an opposing candidate, I think, ‘I look forward to serving with you,’” Gottheim said.