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School board expected to appoint new trustee today

Candidates John Givens, John Pallett and Kevin Whitlock will be publicly interviewed for a trustee position with Nevada City School District at 5 p.m. today, at the district office at 800 Hoover Lane in Nevada City.

Board President Paula Campbell said questions that will be asked primarily involve the understanding of the board and the responsibilities of its trustees.

“We’re going to be asking the role of the board, whether they have an understanding of the board’s role, an understanding of the business of the school district, our mission and goals, the work of the board and what we’re about,” Campbell said, adding there also needs to be an understanding of the limits on the board’s authority and educational issues it faces.



Candidates will be answering questions in a round-robin fashion, where they’ll be seated in front of the board. After the interview process, the board will discuss candidates’ responses and make an appointment.

“It is important that people cast votes freely and that people feel safe while they are in a polling place”

— Gail Smith,
assistant clerk-recorder

Givens has been a resident of Nevada City for 27 years and has worked as a bus driver, investment banker and corporate manager.




“I can bring the skills I have to the board,” he said.

Givens received an M.B.A. in strategy and organizational development from the University of Southern California in 1977 and a B.A. in history from Willamette University in 1966. He was also communications director for the Menke group in 1996 to 2007.

Givens said the purpose of public schools should be “to educate the children of our community. Children grow up together and acquire a body of knowledge. Our public schools are part of the foundation for our democratic society.”

He said he is particularly interested in budgets and planning. He said the areas in most need of improvement are that enrollment needs to be increased and funding needs to be stabilized.

Givens does not have any children in the Nevada City Schools. Givens worked on the Seven Hills Site Council from 1991-1992 and has participated in the Rural Quality Coalition, Republican Central Committee and Friends of Nevada City Elementary.

Pallett, who has lived in Nevada City for seven years, received an M.B.A. in business at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2009 and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Waterloo in 1998. He has been director of product marketing at Telestream since 2005 and was director of online marketing at the Sima-Faris Young Foundation from 2006 to 2009. He was also product manager at ART in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from 2002 to 2005.

Pallett said his children’s education is a top priority and that the basic purpose of public schools is to get “high quality education for all children, targeting each child’s abilities to give them the best chance for success.”

He said the role of the board to fulfill that purpose is policy setting, budgetary review and executive guidance. He said a particular interest or skill as a board member would be “budget, negotiations, long-range planning, facilities, marketing and fundraising guidance.”

Pallett said the areas most in need of improvement in the Nevada City School District are class sizes.

“I would like to review the budget further to determine how funding is allocated,” he wrote in his application.

In his application for the seat, Whitlock said he brings “worldwide experience in business, grants, budgets, negotiations, public relations, stakeholder engagement, financial analysis, monitoring, measuring and implementing quality control.”

He received an M.B.A. from California State University, Dominguez Hills, in 2000 and a B.S. in NRM-Forestry at Humboldt State University in 1989. He has been a volunteer with Under the Trees in Nevada City as a senior consultant since August 2000. He is involved in the Nevada County Land Trust as a volunteer, the South Yuba River Citizens League, Economic Resource Council and Friends of Deer Creek.

He said the role of the school board is to “work with the superintendent in setting the direction for the district through a process that involves the community, parents, students and staff. Activities include but are not limited to establishing organizational structure and academic expectations, ensuring accountability, monitoring student achievement and providing community leadership.”

“(The) Board shall hold the education of students above any partisan principle, group interest or personal interest,” Whitlock wrote. He said he sees the teacher and support staff as the strengths of Nevada City School District with organization and planning as areas most needing improvement.

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call call (530) 477-4230.


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