Professional criteria proposed for NU board
A group of parents, teachers and community members plans next week to submit a 20-point list of professional standards to the Nevada Joint Union High School District, in hopes of recruiting new candidates to the board.
The Concerned Group for the Welfare of NJUHSD group has been meeting periodically since last month, hashing out criteria that ask current and potential board members to act in a professional, team-based approach with the public, teachers and staff.
The group said the current board has done little to offer clear solutions to solve the high school district’s budget crisis and that teachers often fear retribution for asking questions about their jobs.
“We feel it’s time for a change,” said Mike Bratton, whose youngest son graduated from Nevada Union in 2003. Board President Charlie Compton and member Diane Correll are up for re-election in November.
To that end, the group is submitting to the board a list of points that include quality communication skills, a willingness to listen, and an approach that values the education of the “whole child.”
It’s been a rocky road this year, with budget cuts and layoffs at both Bear River and Nevada Union, as well as spending freezes and battles over volunteer service time at both high school campuses.
Given this year’s ups and downs, board member Jon Katis said he welcomes increased scrutiny of candidates.
“Any input is helpful,” he said. “I think attracting interest to the board races would be beneficial for us.”
Ken Buchanan, a teacher at the Park Avenue Alternative campus, said he has heard that many instructors aren’t sure of their futures.
“I have heard my colleagues at Nevada Union say that they are not fearful for their jobs, but changes in their work schedules and professional ridicule if they speak up,” he said.
Linda Miller, who teaches physical education and textile arts at Nevada Union, said she enjoys her job, but she feels frustrated with the myriad changes in administrative structure in the last few years. By the start of the 2004-05 school year, Nevada Union will select its fifth principal in the last four years. Bear River has had three principals in the last three years, after having just one in the 16 years prior to the 2001-02 school year.
The district office has shuffled superintendents this year as well, settling on Maggie Deetz after selecting a three-member team to replace Joe Boeckx when he retired last year.
“There’s been some improvements since we changed superintendents, and communication has improved,” Miller said.
The problem, parent Anthony Halby said, starts at the top. He’s been frustrated that the board doesn’t explain decisions or provide a quality forum for feedback.
It’s a customer service problem, said Halby, who has two graduating seniors and a third student at Nevada Union.
“If you ask them how you feel about going to NU, they say they hate it,” he said. “They like going there, but there are problems with the way some of the students are treated,” he said, especially if they ask for help with student services.
Compton declined to comment on the group’s work until the board meets next Thursday.
“Until I see (their work), I’m not going to comment,” he said, indicating that people have always been welcome to air concerns at board meetings.
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