Letter: Time for experience
As secretary to the Douglas County School District Board of Trustees, the upcoming election is certainly of interest to me. I keep hearing, “It’s time for a change.” Over the past eight years, I have witnessed a number of changes on the board and every change affects the dynamics of the board in some way. Change can be good. However, this is not the time for change. You don’t change horses in the middle of a raging river, nor do you get on a horse that’s never been ridden.
It takes approximately two years for a board member to become truly effective on the board. There is a tremendous amount to learn about the district and the laws governing education. Since a trustee’s first duty is to do what is in the best interest of the students, some new board members are surprised to learn that because of mandates, laws or fiscal restraints, they cannot fulfill the promises that were naively made before the election.
With the Legislature convening in 2001, it is imperative that we have as much consistency and experience on the board as possible and that we have “veteran” board members (Don Forrester and Randy Wallstrum) who will take a combination of 20 years’ experience and knowledge with them. It will take time to recapture this loss. Heaven help us if we end up with five new members at once! I can assure you that little will be accomplished for some time to come.
Some candidates have promised to get rid of the competencies if elected. Again, that only points out how much they have yet to learn. There are state standards to which we must comply. Not only does Douglas County meet and exceed those standards, thanks to the foresight of the superintendent, the administration and the board of trustees, we are six years ahead of other districts in Nevada in meeting them. Those are the competencies that were developed by hundreds of teachers, parents, community and business members and students over a period of eight long years and countless hours. As to those who have boasted that they will get rid of the superintendent if elected, I have to wonder if they have any concept of what is involved in replacing a superintendent (if one can be found) or the time and cost involved.
Before voting, please be sure you are informed about the candidates. What is their real motive? With the exception of the incumbents and Charles Pullen, I believe you will find that each candidate either works for the district, retired from the district, has a spouse who works, or worked, for the district or has a long-running “beef” with the district.
We need continuity. We need experience. We need knowledgeable individuals who have no conflict of interest nor personal agenda. With the implementation of competencies, higher standards for students, declining enrollment, budget limitations and an upcoming legislative session that promises little for education and educators, this is a critical time for the district. For these reason, my votes will go to George Echan, John Raker, Dave Brady and Charles Pullen.