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Bushra Butres Runs For Cajon Valley School Board
By Ziad Bitti :: Sunday, October 1, 2006 :: 87527 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. 

Mother of God Church, MI USA


Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church
25585 Berg Road
Southfield, MI 48033
Tel: (248) 356-0565
Fax: (248) 356-5235

Founding Pastor:
Msgr. Geroge Garmo in 1972
The current church building
was completed in 1980.

Rev.  Manuel Yousif Boji

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Wisam Matti

Daily:  10:00 AM Chaldean
Tuesdays:  5:30 PM Chaldean/English 
Saturdays:  Ramsha 4:45-5:20 PM; Mass 5:30 PM Chaldean   
Sundays:  8:30 AM Arabic, 10:00 AM English, 12:00 PM Chaldean

 1st Friday, Sodality Prayers 11 AM – 12 PM
1st Saturday, Immaculate Heart Sodality Prayers 4:00 PM

Mother of God Guardian Angels

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Monday: Family Bible Study 8:00 P.M. Upper Hall
Friday: Young Adult English Bible Study 7:30 P.M. Lower Hall
Wednesday: Young Adult Arabic Bible Study 7:30 P.M. Lower Hall
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 Rev. Manuel Yousif Boji

Fr. Manuel was born in Telkaif in the suburbs of Nineveh, Iraq in 1946.   Reverend Manuel Boji entered the Chaldean Seminary in Mousl in 1958 and was ordained a priest in Baghdad in 1968.  His first assignment was in Telkaif where he served for 19 years.  In July 1987, Fr. Manuel was assigned  to the United States  where he assisted Mar Addai Parish in Oak Park, Michigan for six months.  From March 1988 until April 1990, he was administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  Fr. Manuel completed his Masters and Doctorate work from both U of D Mercy and Wayne State University while assigned to the United States.  In May 1990, Fr. Manuel was assigned to Mother of God Parish and is currently serving there as Rector of the Cathedral. 

Parochial Vicar: Rev. Wisam Matti

Fr. Wisam was born in Basrah, Iraq on October 30, 1971. Completing his education in Iraq and serving in the military Fr. Wisam then entered the Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad in 1984.  He was ordained a priest in Karemlees a suburb of Nineveh on July 4th 1997.  His first assignment was in Mosul where he served for five years.  On January 21, 2002, Fr. Wisam was transferred to the Unites States and was assigned to Mother of God Parish where he is currently serving as parochial vicar.  Fr. Wisam, earned his Master in Pastoral Theology on April 28, 2007 from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.