Elliot Fills Chakmak’s BUSD Board Seat

Bonita Unified School District Governing Board President Chuck Coyne, right, administers the oath of office to Jim Elliot on Sept. 15, following a special session of the board to select a replacement for Board Member Krista Chakmak following her August resignation. Elliot previously served on the BUSD school board from 2003-2017. Photo: Isabel Ebiner

By Melanie Henson

The Bonita Unified School District Governing Board unanimously selected Jim Elliot to replace Board Member Krista Chakmak at a special session on Sept. 15.  

Elliot told board members he is an “overall super fan of this district and all that it stands for.” He said his top priorities as a board member would be the district’s proactive response to COVID-19, long-term fiscal health and reorganization into school board districts.

Elliot, a San Dimas resident, previously served on the BUSD school board from 2003-2017. He resigned mid-term in 2017, citing heavy work commitments and the intention to run for San Dimas City Council. Elliot said he ended up withdrawing his campaign for city council due to conflicts with his work schedule. 

Elliot told the board he intends to see his current post through this time around, which will last until the next regular election in November 2022.

“I’m all in and 100% committed.”

Seven candidates applied to fill the position vacated by Chakmak and interviewed for 20 minutes apiece during the special meeting.

After roughly 40 minutes of deliberation, board members agreed that the choice would come down to Elliot or Crystal Jones-Bacon. Board President Chuck Coyne and Board Member Greg Palatto initially nominated Jones-Bacon, and Board Members Derek Bahmanou and Glenn Creiman favored Elliot for the position. 

Jones-Bacon is the parent of one sophomore and one graduate of San Dimas High School. Heavily involved in the school district, she has been part of the Boosters Club and the Parent Teacher Student Association, previously as the SDHS PTSA secretary and now as the district-wide advocacy chair.

The final vote came down to a number of considerations.

It was important that “a majority of the board have an investment with their kids in the district,” Palatto said during deliberations. “One thing we’re lacking, and that’s hard to replace, is a mother’s perspective on the board.”

The process of and time spent on onboarding a new member was another consideration. “Learning how to be a board member takes time,” said Bahmanou. “I see Jim as the safest bet by far.”

Coyne said that he did not foresee any issue with teaching a new board member the ropes. “It’s not an insurmountable hurdle to bring a new board member up to speed,” he said.

Coyne added that the emphasis should not be on appointing someone based exclusively on prior experience. 

Crieman argued that experience in the district counts. “It’s very important to me how much time you have been in the district and what you have done,” he said. “The more you’re around the culture of a district, the easier it is to govern that district. You know who the players are, who to talk to to get stuff done and what we’ve done that hasn’t worked.”

Elliot was immediately sworn in after the Sept. 15 vote and will take his position on the board during their next meeting on Oct. 6 at 5 p.m.


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