Two tussle for Penn Valley seat |

Two tussle for Penn Valley seat

First of two parts; Wednesday’s story will cover the Chicago Park-area seat

At this time last year, the Nevada Joint Union High School District was in a state of transition.

The district was nearing the end of an experiment that gave chief responsibility of the district to a trio of co-superintendents, two of whom would abdicate their administrative posts by the end of the year.

The district’s largest high school, Nevada Union, was poised to lose its third principal in three years with the impending departure of Margaret Christensen.

And the district was, and still is, feeling the effects of a fifth straight year of declining enrollment.

Since the end of the year, Superintendent Maggie Deetz has completed her management team and solidified the uncertainty at Nevada Union, many observers believe, with the hiring of a new principal.

Against this backdrop, there’s a potential of three new faces on the high school board come January with the departures of eight-year board veteran Charlie Compton, who represents Chicago Park-area residents, and Diane Correll, who decided not to seek a third term on her Penn Valley-area seat.

Katy Schwarz, a 25-year Nevada County resident, and Tom Kays, who has two children at Nevada Union High School, are vying to replace Correll, a medical-services manager who decided this spring not to seek a third term on the school board.

Tom Kays

Kays, 38, a 1985 Nevada Union graduate, said he’s been going to school board meetings the past several months. He would like to see greater communication on the school board between the members and those charged with executing policy set by the board.

“I like harmony and people that listen to others and use their good judgment,” he said. Kays said he would also focus on making the school safer, though he said he’d take his time to examine policies before making any solid decisions.

Kays manages the production department at Autometrix, a local manufacturer of precision cutting tables for makers of textile fabrics.

Kays said he’s pleased with the team Deetz has assembled and is impressed with new Nevada Union Principal Marty Mathiesen.

“It looks like the board and administration will work quite well together,” said Kays, who’s not worried about the prospect of having a majority of new board members should he take office this winter.

Kays’ father, Tim, was a longtime teacher and coach at Nevada Union. Tom Kays’ sister, Teri, is married to Mark Heauser, who is seeking the seat vacated by Compton.

Katy Schwarz

Schwarz, whose four children all attended Nevada Union, is seeking a term on the board after serving on the Pleasant Valley School District for eight years, ending in 2000.

Like Kays, Schwarz, who served on the Pleasant Valley School’s site council and was a basketball booster, would like to see an emphasis on leadership with the school board.

“I want to be a good representative for our community and encourage more openness between our community and the school board,” she said.

Schwarz said she’d like to eliminate the divisiveness she believes exists between some teachers and members of the administration. She said she’s concerned, for example, about how the district plans to deal with impending retirements of as many as 70 teachers in the next three years, a figure that represents one-third of the certified staff at Bear River and Nevada Union high schools.

“There needs to be more guidance from the staff at the district level,” she said.

She supports Deetz and Mathiesen, noting that there appears to be a more positive outlook this year.

“They’re really trying to improve the communication, and I want to be part of that new team. I really think this administration wants to work hard and be positive.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User