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Bushra Butres Runs For Cajon Valley School Board
By Ziad Bitti :: Sunday, October 1, 2006 :: 58677 Views :: Career & Education, Government & Society

California, USA – Chaldean Bushra Butres challenges the old guard of the Cajon Valley school board, which oversees a district of 28 elementary and middle schools in the inner city and more rural neighborhoods. 

Incumbents Marsha L. Saben, Jill D. Barto and Jane Cruz Alfano are being challenged by  Bushra “Nissou” Butres in the Nov. 7 election.

The Cajon Valley districty has a large population of Chaldeans and Assyrians but is poorly represented in school policy or understanding.  Many in the community have long sought a qualified candidate to bring a unique perspective of the challenges new citizens in the Cajon Valley schools face.  Many in the Chaldean community feel Butres is the right person for the job. 

The Cajon Valley Union School District educates students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The district has 20 elementary schools, six middle schools and two special-program schools serving about 16,400 children in the city and the unincorporated communities of Crest, Mount Helix and Rancho San Diego.
The Cajon Valley Union School District, which has about 16,400 students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade, has its share of triumphs and challenges.

The district opened a new middle school this year in Blossom Valley and recently celebrated the completion of an $8.2 million multipurpose building shared with the city of El Cajon through a joint-use agreement. The district is ethnically and economically diverse and is working to bridge an achievement gap among its students.

However, like all East County school districts, Cajon Valley is struggling with declining enrollment, which can be crippling because state funding is based on the number of students in the classroom.   Many in the Semitic community who can afford to leave are leaving the public school system favoring private school. 

Cajon Valley has formed a task force to look at ways to address the problem at its 28 campuses. Candidates say it's one of the most important issues facing the district, which has already closed one school and has over the years cut back its teaching staff.

The three incumbents say they have fostered good working relationships with their district colleagues, and they appear to agree on the most pressing issues.

The old guard of the school board seems to be quite protective of their positions.  Saben, 57, is seeking a fifth term on the five-person board. She lives in El Cajon and works as a substance-abuse prevention and education consultant and has three children.

Barto, 40, has served three terms. She lives in El Cajon and owns a telephone installation and Repair Company as well as an Internet business. Barto, whose three children have attended district schools, said she is an advocate for special education.

She agrees that declining enrollment is a tough issue, but said early numbers suggest Cajon Valley isn't losing students as quickly as a few years ago.

Preliminary figures show that the district is down about 150 students this school year compared with last year, she said. Enrollment has dropped from 19,000 to 16,400 in the past five years.

Alfano, 53, is running for a second term. She was appointed to the board in 2001 and won her first election the following year.   The El Cajon resident has two children who attended district schools. She works as the director of religious education and youth ministry at the Church of St. Luke in El Cajon. Alfano said she will work to maximize the use of district dollars, a necessity as declining enrollment shrinks revenue from the state. That could include seeking partnerships with other agencies.

Butres, 42, works as a loan processor and a business consultant. She has lived in El Cajon for 11 years.   Although she has no children, Butres said her strong ties to the community offer her direct link to the challenges families face in the district. 

She was encouraged to run by a Chaldean friend to give a voice to the often ignored East County's immigrant community. Butres, who is Chaldean, speaks Arabic, Assyrian, Chaldean, Spanish and English. Butres said her diverse community connections would be a boon for the district. 

Using her special skills in language and business Butres feels her ideas can help rescue a troubled district.  Butres is eager to share modern business principals to help inspire creative ideas that would make the district more efficient and effective in their mission of educating every child. 

Sacred Heart Parish, MI USA


Sacred Heart Parish
310 W. Seven Mile. Rd.
Detroit, MI 48203
Tel: (313) 368-6214
Fax: (313) 891-0132

The parish was established by Rev. Jacob Yasso in 1973

Rev. Jacob Yasso

Rev. Jacob Yasso was born in the village of Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing high school he was recruited to Rome and Urbaniana University where he completed his Masters Degree in philosophy and Theology.  Fr. Yasso was ordained a priest in 1960 and served the Diocese of Mosul, where he worked in the public school system. Fr. Yasso was also asked by the Patriarch to teach at the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad, where he served as administrator, professor of philosophy and religious life, and rector of the minor seminary. 

In 1964, Fr. Yasso was appointed to the United States to serve the growing Chaldean community in Detroit.  There he served as the 4th Pastor of Mother of God Parish.  .  In 1972, the Patriarch charged Fr. Yasso with building a new parish for the Chaldeans in Detroit.  In taking great pains to care for the community Fr. Yasso accelerated the development of a new church and community center.  In 1975, Fr. Yasso completed the development of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit and shortly thereafter he added the Chaldean Center of America in 1980, 

A few years later in 1982, Fr. Yasso was asked to assist the late Fr. Kattoula at St. Peter’s Church in San Diego, CA.  Before long, Fr. Yasso was once again recruited to Rome to study new Canon Law of the Church.  While in Rome Fr. Yasso completed his third Masters Degree in Church Law, making him the only Chaldean priest trained in Canon Law. 

In 1988, the Patriarch and Vatican authorities asked Fr. Yasso to travel to Canada and establish a parish and community center.  While there he served as a Tribunal Judge for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Four years later Fr. Yasso returned to Sacred Heart church in Detroit to help care for the remaining Chaldean community residence in the Detroit area.  To this day, Fr. Yasso continues to serve as the parish pastor creating activities and advising the City of Detroit on community related matters. 

Fr. Yasso is a member of the International WYCLIF Bible translators, since 1975, and has completed the translation of the New Testament from Greek and Aramaic into Arabic and spoken Chaldean.   The publication of his scholarly work is set to be released soon.