Frances Bilak’s family joined the Beverly Hills Unified School District two years ago, but already she feels motivated to improve the system.
“I really believe I can make a difference in the academic and social health of our children,” said Bilak, a lawyer and one of four candidates running for three seats in the upcoming Board of Education election.
Board Vice President , educator/producer and write-in candidate are also competing in the Nov. 8 race. Another candidate, Traffic and Parking Commissioner Andy Licht has , but by law his name and candidate statement must appear on the ballot.
With two children attending El Rodeo, Bilak told Patch that city schools are good but can be even better. She has met with all five city school principals and spoken with BHUSD superintendent Gary Woods. Bilak has come up with several priorities to pursue if elected.
“I want to create a different type of classroom to help get students more engaged,” she said, adding that teachers could use smart boards, iPads and other types of technology to accomplish this goal. She would try to fund technology purchases by seeking out federal and private grants, and would encourage fundraising drives targeted towards technology, similar to the conducted earlier this year by the Beverly Hills Education Foundation (BHEF) to pay teacher salaries.
Bilak has pledged strict monitoring of spending and of the legal bills the district is incurring from the case. There will also be extensive legal bills if the BHUSD ultimately sues the Metropolitan Transportation Authority over its under Beverly Hills High School.
“As a lawyer, I am trained to look at legal bills and financial statements,” Bilak said, noting that she practiced law for many years in Washington, D.C. However, she has not practiced since her oldest child was born more than 11 years ago.
Another campaign pledge is to implement a unified anti-bullying policy in the district.
“Right now, each school has different ways of dealing with bullying,” Bilak said. A state anti-bullying law signed this month by Gov. Jerry Brown may accomplish this goal, but she said it is too early to know if it will.
Bilak says she is committed to strict class sizes at all levels, a policy that has been championed by incumbent Goldberg. Since smaller class sizes often mean higher costs because extra teachers must be hired, she wants to pay for extra staff primarily through private donations.
“I’d like to find out how much district parents are paying for tutors and then encourage them to donate those funds to BHEF—or another entity—to pay for additional teachers,” she said, elaborating on an idea she first raised at the recent candidate forum. There will be less of a need for tutors if there are smaller class sizes for all grades, she said.
For more on Bilak and her proposed policies, visit her website. Check back with Patch later this week for profiles of the other board candidates.
Editor's Note: This article was incorrectly edited to state that Frances Bilak and her family moved to Beverly Hills two years ago. They actually had already lived here but did not attend BHUSD schools until two years ago.