Is cultural change set for schools? |

Is cultural change set for schools?

“Culture” seems to be the word that everyone comes back to when speaking about the Nevada Joint Union High School District and its largest institution, Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley.

It’s used when talking about why there have been six NU principals in the past four years; why the teachers union and board of trustees have been at each others’ throats over budgets; why two members of the board are not running again. (We do not sense that it is because they are happy campers.)

It’s hard to define what a culture is unless you’re inside it, but the outcomes are more than apparent to the rest of the community. And creating a collaborative and constructive culture can be very hard to do – especially if the person pushing for change is an outsider, and the insiders like the culture just the way it is, thank you.

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal, and we welcome new NU Principal Marty Mathiesen and new Assistant Superintendent Christine Clark to our community. In profiles about them this week in The Union, they came across as experienced, hard-working and – perhaps most important – thick-skinned.

They have their work cut out for them as the district faces continued hard choices in coming years, not only due to ongoing state budget difficulties, but declining enrollment and looming massive teacher retirements.

Superintendent Maggie Deetz seems to have made some good hires for her team. “I think we’ll see some changes in culture,” she said.

There’s that word again. We hope she’s right, and that teachers and the reconfigured board will get behind the administrators as they work to create a culture that can meet the challenges facing education in Nevada County.

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