Stating a desire “to help the San Marino Unified School District and our children as much as I can,” Mike Killackey, an attorney, has told The Tribune that he will be a candidate for one of three school board seats at the November 6 election.
“My family became a part of the San Marino community so we could be part of the public school system here,” Killackey said. “My wife has had a very active part at both our boys’ schools and being a Trustee of San Marino Schools Foundation, I see becoming a member of our School Board as an opportunity to continue to promote the academic excellence of San Marino schools.”
Killackey, 42, grew up in El Monte and graduated from Arroyo High School in 1993. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with degrees in Business Economics and Sociology in 1997 and received his law degree from Loyola Law School in 2000.
“I come from a family of teachers and we have always had great respect for the value of education,” Killackey said. “I grew up learning that in order to advance your future, you needed to secure the best education possible and that is what eventually brought our family to San Marino.”
Killackey identified three main issues that have fueled his candidacy.
“Student wellness, evolving our students’ coursework and the facilities bond,” Killackey said.
“I see student wellness as an issue which includes school safety, an updated homework policy and robust middle and high school counseling services,” Killackey said. “Student wellness extends beyond our student wellness center at the high school. We must provide more counseling services to our middle and high school students to help with their daily challenges, and prepare them for their future.”
Killackey also said “our district must evolve student coursework to adapt to today’s rapidly changing environment with the addition of more specialized classes.”
“Our Caltech class and our Humanities class at The Huntington are two great examples of San Marino setting the bar, but there is so such more we must still do.” Killackey said. “It is important for us to develop similar relationships that provide unique opportunities for our students in other areas of study.”
The modernization of facilities is also at the top of his “to do” list.
“It was unfortunate that the bond was not presented in a way that educated the public about our schools’ many needs,” Killackey added. “We needed broad-based community input and we needed to put it before the voters. The board’s decision to not present that bond precluded the students of San Marino from having updated facilities and it precluded the voters from deciding what was important for our own children.”
Killackey has already begun communicating with community members.
“There are a lot of great ideas out there,” he said. “The community needs effective communication channels to get these ideas to the school board. San Marino is a great community that is very focused on its children. And our parents and families need to get their messages to the board, so we can be heard.”
The father of two also said his experience as an attorney will make him a valuable board member, if he is elected.
“As an attorney, I have much experience in spotting issues, evaluating research, and proposing solutions to difficult problems through sound policy. I will apply these skills to enhancing the education of our children. Further, I will always place the district’s interests above my own.” Killackey said.
Shortly after graduating from Loyola Law, Killackey began work as a defense attorney and now maintains his practice as a plaintiff’s attorney because “My heart is focused on helping people who need a voice,” he said.
Killackey began dating his wife, Stefanie, at age fifteen while he was at Arroyo and she at Temple City High School. Stefanie doubles as his office manager when not serving as the mother of Sean, who will be in 7th grade at Huntington Middle School, and Will, who will be a fourth grader at Valentine.
Killackey said he plans on hosting several meet and greet opportunities “so I can listen to the concerns and suggestions of our community.”
“Like many in our community, we came to San Marino for the schools,” Killackey concluded. “That is the main reason why we are here. My family has always valued the importance of public education and I will do everything in my power to advocate for each student to receive a well-rounded exceptional education from our schools.”
Three seats for the San Marino School Board will be contested at the November 6 election. Incumbents Shelley Ryan and C. Joseph Chang have told The Tribune that they will defend their seats. Nam Jack responded that she “will not be running for re-election.”