The team that helped change the face of the Hesperia Unified School District school board has been returned to office, when all four Hesperia Teachers Association executive board incumbents were reelected earlier this month.

"I think the results were about 60/40, about two-thirds voted that way," once and future HTA executive board president Jim Pace said Thursday. "I think it was a good clean election."

Approximately 700 members of the 1,000-member union voted in the election. The election ran from April 24 through May 8, and the results were released to union members on May 17.

Pace, who teaches physical education at Hesperia Junior High School, was reelected along with vice-president Gordon Williamson, treasurer Jim Garrett and secretary Claudia Ethum. Pace has been president of the board for the past six years.

"We ran on our past successes. We elected two board members [in the 2003 school board election], three members this time," Pace said. "We're hoping to work together with them and improve conditions for the students."

And, conveniently, that puts five members who got into office with help from the union on the board in a year when salary negotiations are underway.

"They're going pretty well. Right now, the Hesperia school district has about 80 percent of the teachers fully credentialed. The rest of the county is about 90 percent," Pace said, making a pitch for better salary and benefits for teachers. "We're not able to keep and attract fully credentialed teachers like the rest of the county."

Teacher salaries in the HUSD currently begin at $40,321 for a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree and can reach up to $79,582 for a 20-year teacher with a Ph.D. or a master's degree and 18 additional academic credit hours.

"We feel the most important person in the classroom is the person you put in front of it," Pace said.

The relationship between the union and school district has had its ups and downs, but Pace said things are mostly positive today.

"I'd say generally it's fairly good. We had a good meeting just yesterday with district management," Pace said. "I feel this is the first time the school board, district and the association have all been rolling the same direction."

But the relationship between the union and the board members they helped elect doesn't mean the school board is at Pace's beck and call, he says.

"We helped elect the board, but we don't tell the board how to run the district. We elected good people. [School board vice-president Robert] Kirk was highly qualified, and he'd been in the district a long time, and he has a doctoral degree."

As for when the salary negotiations between the union and district will be resolved, "it's hard to predict," according to Pace.

"I'm very hopeful it'll be wrapped up soon," perhaps as soon as within three weeks.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.