By Cheri M. Flanigan (As published in The Union)
For those of you who are retired, or like me, whose kids have grown, this Nevada Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees election is important. When my kids were in school here, our collective schools were rated #2 in the state, right behind Marin County. That was a source of pride and our families supported our schools in many ways. In recent years, I admit, I have paid little attention to the schools or the school board. In the past two years, however, some disturbing news started coming out and I thought, “what the heck is going on here?”
The school’s rating has dropped to 38th in the state; the students tell their parents they don’t feel “safe” at school because if they go to the bathroom they will be accosted by a group who is vaping and will “force” them to “hit”; teachers have quit and programs have been eliminated without cause. There are no longer programs or classes for kids who want to pursue trades as there once were. Not every student goes to college, as we know, but those without university aspirations are left without direction or a path forward.
I’m encouraging voters to vote for Wendy Willoughby, Olivia Pritchett and Ken Johnson depending on which area you reside. Look for these names because they represent the kind of Nevada County where all NJUHSD teens and their educators will be heard and respected.
At the last NJUHSD Board meeting, the cronyism was astounding. The Board President, in veering from the agenda, violated the Brown Act and California State Education law by taking time from the business of the board to campaign for her son, who is running for her seat. In addition, this Board President also campaigned for a currently-seated appointed member without giving notice to the other candidates currently running. These meetings are public and can be viewed by going to vimeo.com/757381015. Check out the 21 minute mark.
There’s a whole lot of talk about “listening” to the students. I submit to you that immediate action is needed at our local high school. Wendy Willoughby has the qualifications to listen, plan and implement. She has had a decade of honing her skills as a leader and facilitator in the nonprofit sector. She is a fourth generation native of Nevada County. Her work includes the Nevada County Fair and the Center for Non-Profit Leadership. She and her husband have two daughters who grew up here and attended our schools, beginning with Tall Pines Nursery School. Likewise, Olivia Pritchett has been involved in our community as a business owner, parent volunteer and leader in activities including dance, school plays, soccer, football and mountain bike races. She’s on the Center for the Arts Board as well as CATS (Community Asian Theatre). Her son was the Student Trustee to the board.
Another qualified candidate, Ken Johnson, is running in Area 5. He has taught for eight years and is the kind of person that makes a difference in students’ lives. One project he spearheaded was collecting donations from various schools to fill over 2,000 holiday gift boxes that were sent to our troops in Afghanistan; the students hand-wrote letters for each box. Each one of these three candidates will bring a renewed direction towards leadership, academics and excellence that has been sorely lacking with the current NJUHSD Board of Trustees. Finally, they are endorsed by 40 retired and current educational leaders. Let’s vote for Wendy, Olivia and Ken to give the kids here the quality education they deserve.
Check them out: On Facebook and Instagram: Wendy Willoughby for High School Board, Olivia Pritchett for High School Board and Ken Johnson. Look for Wendy on her website: wendy4nuboard.com. Look for Olivia on her website: Olivia4nuboard.com. Look for Ken on his website: VoteForKen.com
Cheri M Flanigan lives in Nevada City