Pamela Braunstein Hopes to Bring A New Voice to School Board


Jack O'Connor

Pamela Braunstein poses with her campaign sign at a campaign event in Ladera Ranch this past weekend. She is running to represent Trustee Area Two on the CUSD Board of Trustees, which includes Ladera Ranch, Rancho Mission Viejo, Coto de Caza, Las Flores, and parts of San Juan Capistrano. The seat is currently held by Trustee president, Jim Reardon, but Braunstein is hopeful that she can win.

Max Katz, Politics Editor

Americans across the nation are casting their ballots already, and with the slander, controversy, and polarization surrounding the Presidential race it can be easy to forget about the elections for local positions that have such an important effect on our daily lives. Pamela Braunstein, candidate for CUSD Trustee Area 2, is one that local voters will not want to forget when it comes time to cast their ballots.

Braunstein worked as a civil litigation attorney in the Los Angeles area, and at the same time built a rich connection to schools in the area when she served 8 years on the Oso Grande PTA board. It is clear that Braunstein is qualified to sit on the CUSD Board of Trustees, but her service as a parent has led her to campaign on the objective of putting our resources back in the classroom where they belong.

“For years I was working at my own kids’ schools in the classrooms and on the PTA Board and became frustrated that the parents had to fund so much of the basics the teachers and principals needed to make the campuses and classrooms operate.” said Braunstein. 

After attending board meetings, Braunstein found that fiscal decisions were being made without proper understanding of students’ needs inside the classroom. This is why she is running on a platform to bring budgetary responsibility to the decision making process.

I’m hoping to be a voice that can help facilitate better communication and transparency.

— Braunstein

Many CUSD funds are used on administrative salary and other political operations. Braunstein is running on the platform that these are dollars that should be reinvested in the quality of education CUSD students receive. Residents of the district already pay high Mello-Roos taxes, Braunstein aims to use the money in the existing budget in ways where it is more directly used to help students.

Braunstein believes she can tackle this issue by bridging divides between the board, principals, teachers, and parents. “I’m hoping to be a voice that can help facilitate better communication and transparency,” said Braunstein.

The main political obstacle Braunstein faces in her efforts to bring these changes to the school board is her opponent, Jim Reardon. Reardon was first elected in 2012 and now serves as the president of the CUSD Board of Trustees. In 2016 Reardon was reelected in a landslide victory, receiving over 80% of the vote.

Past elections can give indication on how results will look; however, the political environment has changed drastically, mostly as result of the effects of Covid-19. Therefore election results can switch up significantly this year, even in non-partisan school board races.

That is why Braunstein has promised to bring proactive leadership that she claims is absent on the current board led by Reardon.

I also think the District is being run very reactively — where they don’t foresee problems or issues they should, and then run around at the last minute trying to push policy through without the Board really having confidence that what is being approved is the best way to accomplish their goals,” said Braunstein.

As the calendar closes in on election day, Trustee Area 2 and the rest of CUSD await the results. Voters understand that this election will have a major effect on the direction the CUSD Board of Trustees heads in over the next two years and beyond.