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Education - Longest MBUSD Trustee Cochrane Not Seeking Re-Election

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Mark McDermott

Nineteen years ago, when Jennifer Cochrane was a young mother just arriving in Manhattan Beach, a teacher at Meadows Elementary School giving orientation to kindergarteners with parents casually mentioned the district’s ongoing fundraising issues. and some programs were maintained solely through parental involvement. A light bulb went off in Cochrane’s head.

“That’s when I realized it wasn’t anyone else’s job,” Cochrane told EasyReader while running for school board in 2013. “We all have a responsibility to do what we can.”

Few parents have done more for their local schools than Cochrane over the last 20 years. Not coincidentally, all three of her children were enrolled through her MBUSD. She served on the Meadows PTA Board of Directors and its president, then Mila joined the Costa High School PTSA and she joined the MBUSD PTA Board of Directors, where she spent five years on the school district advocacy team. She will lobby on behalf of the local school. Cochrane has chosen not to run for re-election after she has now served nine years on the MBUSD Board of Education.

“I was always going to serve two terms,” ​​Cochrane said. “And the fact that the term had to be adjusted to his five years to accommodate changes in state law that came with even-year elections – my youngest son graduated from MiraCosta in June, so I kindly It was like, “Well, that’s perfect.” When I entered the school board, he had one student at every level of elementary, middle, and high school. So it actually lined up perfectly. ”

Not included in the original plan was to serve as president of the board in the first year of the pandemic. Fellow MBUSD board member Sally Austin Peale likened her holding of elected office in local elections at the beginning of the pandemic to the “year of the dog.” Suddenly, my part-time volunteer job became almost full-time.

“We closed in March and I was president until December,” Cochrane said. “Richard Montgomery was the mayor at the time, and I think we were on the phone every day during his first three months of the pandemic.”

Montgomery praised Cochrane’s cool leadership.

“She has a great leadership style,” Montgomery said. “She listened to her angry parents and teachers while managing the ‘unknown’ as we all do.”

Doing it during the first few days of COVID.

Cochran’s resignation represents the loss of important institutional knowledge. He has three seats in the Nov. 7 ballot, and the only incumbent he is seeking re-election is Jen Fenton. His two remaining board members, Jason Boxer and Kathy Graves, were elected two years before him.

“When I became an executive, some of my colleagues had a combined 20 years of experience, and I was able to learn from them all,” says Cochran. “It was big. And I felt it was my duty and obligation to do multiple semesters because I spend the first semester really learning what I was doing.”

Fenton described Cochrane as her “Board Yoda” during her own first term.

“When I think of Jen Cochran’s nine years of service on the MBUSD board, I think of her successful advocacy, the sheer depth of her organizational knowledge, and of course the district’s curricula, programming, and complex budgets.” Fenton said. “Jen is a leader in every sense of the word, and she has a huge responsibility when her term ends in December.”

Hilary Mahan, executive director of the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation, said Cochran’s resignation would leave a big void.

“Jen Cochrane is an outstanding leader and has truly realized the district’s vision of providing quality education for all students,” Mahan said. “Over the past nine years, she has championed the integrity of the Office and responsibly represented all stakeholders in well-researched and prudent decisions. Perspective has benefited our community tremendously, especially during difficult times. It would be infinitely difficult to replace a leader like Jenn Cochrane.”

School board members put in a lot of time, and the reward isn’t monetary, it’s the work itself. Ms Cochrane said she is honored to serve in a community where her three children are receiving excellent education.

“When your students are going through the system at the same time, you get a lot more on-the-ground information than just being a parent in the district,” says Cochran. “What really paid off was that I served my community and did my best for every student in my district. has gone all-out for nine years.”