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School board candidate wants new superintendent

Merrie Leininger

William Laughlin doesn’t mince words about why he wants to be elected to the school board.

“I do not believe the district is functioning anywhere near its fullest potential and I believe Dr. (Pendery) Clark is the main problem. When I am elected, I intend to encourage in every way for her to resign and I definitely would not go along with extending her contract another year like the school board did this year,” he said.

Laughlin, 64, of Zephyr Cove, is running against incumbent George Echan. He has lived in Douglas County since 1976 and there are six grown children between he and his wife, Janie.

Laughlin said all his children went through Douglas County schools and he currently has a granddaughter in the district, so he knows its potential, which he says is being stifled by Superintendent Clark.

“The problem is the current board members unanimously voted to extend Dr. Clark’s contract. They don’t see she’s a problem,” he said.

Laughlin said his disagreement with Clark’s managerial style stems from unspecified unhappiness with a past principal of Whittell High School about three years ago, when his wife worked as a secretary at the school.

“(Clark) was late to respond and then didn’t do much to make it better. I was in direct contact with Dr. Clark during this period. The school board is out of touch. You see the problems they have with teachers now. There is no way the schools could be functioning the way they should be,” Laughlin said.

He said some inequities still exist between Valley and Lake schools that he would like to see remedied, but admitted the answer is hard to find.

“The problem is, the schools (at the Lake) are smaller than in the Valley, but they are not doing everything they should be doing,” he said.

Laughlin said his past experience serving as a Roundhill GID board member will help him as a school board member.

“I’m somewhat of a consensus builder. That should be helpful in overcoming some real and perceived problems,” he said.

Laughlin, however, says building consensus will be difficult if many of the school board members remain seated.

“I really want to see the members of the board change. I’ve done anything I can to encourage people to run against the incumbents,” he said.

Laughlin, who works in environmental safety at Bently Nevada, said the board’s unconditional support of the superintendent is why he sees a need for change.

“The superintendent’s management style is callous. She wants her way. One of the teachers (from the Lake schools) is one of the people who encouraged me to run. For a long time, there has been a general frustration with Dr. Clark. I don’t see the existing board members changing that,” he said.