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Patch Profile: BHUSD Board Candidate Frances Bilak

Patch talks to one of four candidates in the Nov. 8 election about her plans if she is voted to the Board of Education.

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.

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frances bilak October 18, 2011 at 03:51 AM
Thank you for your article Laurie. Actually, my family has lived in Beverly Hills since the mid 1950's. My father-in-law graduated from Beverly Hills High in 1959. My husband and his two brothers attended Hawthorne and then went on to graduate from Beverly Hills High School. My children are the third generation of Beverly Hills students in our family. We moved into the district almost SIX years ago. I am so proud of the legacy our family shares with this wonderful town.
joninla October 19, 2011 at 09:30 AM
As a former attorney myself ("former" is the title I am most proud of) I was not quite clear exactly what your position is on the opposition to the tunneling under the school for the subway. I will hold any judgement until it is made clear. TO ME it doesn't even need a calculator to know with certainty the legal & other related costs have already exceeded any question about - IS THE FIGHT TO BAD - ON A DOLLAR-FOR-DOLLAR FINANCIAL STATEMENT - WORTH IT WHAT THE BOTTOM LINE COST? Even if some of the never ending ridiculous NEW reasons coming up almost daily, had even some validity, THE COST TO FIGHT THE TUNNELING EXCEEDS ANY POSSIBLE COST THAT COULD BE IMAGINED TO MITIGATE THESE IMAGINARY 'SERIOUS REASONS TO STOP THE TUNNEL BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE'
frances bilak October 19, 2011 at 03:50 PM
My position is that I am opposed to any MTA tunneling under the school. Just yesterday, I went on a walk of the proposed TUNNELS with Gary Woods, Tim Buresh, and a number of other city activists to view exactly where and how these tunnels would impact on our students and the high school and the homes the would be affected. To begin with, it is not ONE BUT TWO tunnels that are being proposed to be built; We have only one high school in the entire Beverly Hills school district; This will severely limit our ability to build in the future either above or below the school site; By running under the High School it will cost in excess of $120 million dollars more than by going the straight route down Santa Monica Boulevard; and many other reasons that are not "imaginary" nor "ridiculous" as you suggest. Such as the potential of methane pockets exploding, vibrations from the subways impacting on our students and the homeowners that will be affected. It just makes no sense to go under the high school.
joninla October 20, 2011 at 01:38 AM
Well of course there will be 2 tunnels. That is how tunneling using a TBM machine. (e.g. Chunnel ). Clearly you only have the most superficial actual knowledge about basic Tunnel & Construction (not an insult, I wouldn't expect anyone but an educated trained and licensed Transportation Engineer to understand the actual process). So one or two tunnels - no difference - other than the potential of even more sturdy/stable and strong tunnel under BHHS. One giant tunnel is not able to bear nearly the weight of to perfectly round circular tunnels side-by-side. I am clueless how you have come to believe there will be any loss to future construction ABOVE the tunnels. Have you been to NYC. (I know you have). The L.A. Wilshire/Figueroa station is a large transfer stop to the blue line. As a Major station along the line, it is near impossible to know it exists or if you are trying to find it, it is very hard since they built the 30-40 story HOME SAVING BUILDING (I don't know what is called now, but poorly based on the design of NY's Plaza Hotel. There was, has been and continues to be extensive expert analysis regarding potential methane pockets from the beginning of subway route planning though construction and following it during the functioning subways operation. The initial red line was in fact redirected before construction after a possible methane concern. (one more point to come)
joninla October 20, 2011 at 01:49 AM
I am really not being hostile or trying to make fun of you, especially with the final response. As to the noise and vibration either during the tunning or vibration when the system is in operatoin (neither of which will happen based on my own surprise as to what is and what is not heard during the pervious constructions - I am very noise sensitive) ... As to that sort of noise affecting your students, I can tell you from first hand experience that one thing I wish I had leared from my quiet High School BEFORE my 5 year extened UCLA undergradutate education, was how to study, concentrate and not be totally distracted by extremely loud construction noises, abrupt changes to my daily route to class because of new construction projects and all the dirt, debris and smell that is commonly joked about as UCLA being under a state of PERMANT MAJOR CONSTRUCTION/RENOVATION. As a one of the highest percentile of H.S. whoes students matriculate to UCLA, your privlidged students (I was very privlidged to grow up in a huge home with neighbors far away and behind hedges and never home), the sudden (albeit fun/exciting/envigoratingly new living experience) change to first the UCLA dorms, the what we call the UCLA Ghetto apartments ('Ghetto' was our college level of intellecual humor - given the highest rents in town) did affect my very, very good, but not superior final standings upon graduation. So it's another excuse to justiy a prejudged postion.
joninla October 20, 2011 at 01:59 AM
Finally, the 'fiscal concens' you have, and I assue are of a very high professional standard you state will be used to help the students get the best of their education and not have the system redirect funds for student education, are true about yet again change ... now what $150 MILLION more (not the $60 million last week) .... Why are you using your very valuable and finite about of professional skills on that $150 or any cost increase to the BHHS Tunnel controversy. The MTA is fuding (in charge of funding - a totally different issue) the project. Neither Beverly Hills, its residents, tax payers or annual budget goes to the construction cost of the Tunneling sub-divsion of the entire County's Budgeting and paying for the new subway. I think the time would have been better spent reviewing the billings of the attorneys hired to fight the BHHS Tunnel. There is always overcharger in legal billing. Some people do no know this and consider the bill a final statement. There are overcharges meant to be negotated over by the client which can drastically reduct the final legal fees of this size. A touch fiscal conservative would know this and fight "for the kids" (the BHHS budget) the Billing Statements of the Law Firm. It's not fun and makes you very unpopular with the law firm, but whoes interest are the most important. Really?

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