Longtime Resident Throws Hat Into So Pas School Board Race

Dr. Ruby Kalra

A longtime South Pasadena resident this week officially announced her intention to seek a seat on the local School Board in November’s general election.

Dr. Ruby Kalra, a 16-year resident, this week announced her intention to seek the third seat left open by incumbent Elisabeth Eilers’ decision not to run.

The South Pasadena Unified School District’s Board of Education has three seats up for grabs, with two incumbents already saying they’re running again. School Boardmembers Julie Giulione and Michele Kipke indicated they are going to seek re-election to the terms that last four years.

 “I am not running again,” Eilers said. “I will be completing my 13th year on the Board of Education. It has been one of the most challenging and most fulfilling endeavors of my life. I know of nothing as vital as educating our youth well. I first ran when the district was struggling with a lack of solid leadership at the top and serious budget cuts. I am leaving a healthy and thriving district, thanks to our outstanding superintendent and his cabinet, my fellow board members, our dedicated SPUSD staff and an amazingly supportive community.”

Kalra acknowledges she’s new to local politics but she also said she’s excited and grateful for the opportunity.

“My family immigrated to the United States from India when I was 3-years-old, and I attended public schools from elementary school through medical school,” Kalra said in the statement announcing her decision. “I’ve always enjoyed working with children, and my professional career has been devoted to taking care of children with cancer and blood diseases.”

Kalra has a long-standing commitment to the district, having been honored as this year’s recipient of the Golden Apple Award for outstanding service to South Pasadena schools. Kalra also has served as the South Pasadena Council’s PTA president and president of the South Pasadena Educational Foundation, in addition to numerous volunteer roles in the schools at all levels and on districtwide committees. Kalra is a board-certified pediatrician and pediatric oncologist. 

“Volunteering in the schools was a natural fit for me, and it has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the issues facing all of our schools, not to mention making meaningful connections with other families in the district, with SPUSD staff, and with our wonderful South Pasadena community,” Kalra said in her announcement.

Kalra’s three sons, Max, Cole, and Troy Elsner, have attended South Pasadena schools, with each starting at Marengo Elementary School. Max and Cole both graduated from South Pasadena High School, Max in 2016 and Cole in 2018. Troy will be entering SPHS this year as a freshman.

“My volunteer experience and raising my own children have highlighted for me how important transitions are from one level to the next — from elementary school to middle school to high school,” Kalra said. “As a School Boardmember,  I will promote communication, inclusion and fiscal responsibility, and the safety and wellness of South Pasadena students will be top priorities.”

The district is facing significant challenges over the next few years, officials said. As always, the ever-changing state budget alters the district’s finances seemingly on a weekly basis. Declining enrollment also is a challenge that must be dealt with head-on. This year alone, the district was forced to lay-off two teachers, only to be able to reinstate them later when the enrollment figures and the budget forecast improved. The looming pension requirements are also a challenge. The district won approval from the voters for a $98-million bond measure for facilities that needs to be monitored as the construction moves forward.

As of press time, there was no other declared candidates in the race, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters website, lavote.net.

The filing period is from July 16 to August 10, unless an incumbent is not running, then it extends five days. School Board candidates are required to file their intent to seek office with the County Registrar’s Office in Norwalk.