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Nevada

Understanding the Responsibilities of a Nevada United Union High School District Trustee | News

 

Over the weekend, Nevada United Union High School District Superintendent Dan Frisella and all of the trustees serving on the district board, three of whom are new to the office, attended a leadership training seminar.

“Our board members dedicated nine hours to quality professional development. Our team is collectively focused on positive outcomes for students in our district’s schools, and this has been 100% evident throughout our education,” Frisella said.

Write Keys 2 Consulting was hired to lead professional development. The focus was on reviewing the board’s duties and responsibilities, including “approving budgets, curricula, recruitment policies and practices in general, including the superintendent,” board trustee and president DuWein Gansky said.

“It’s about understanding our responsibilities,” Gansky said.

Deborah L. Keyes Wright, founder of the consulting group, was the leader of the training workshop. According to a biography on her website, Wright was director of equity and advice for the National Association of School Boards, representing the American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, and Latino groups that govern underprivileged children across the country in public education.

“Previous councils have participated in similar trainings for many years. Every time there is at least one new member on the council, it is technically a “new council”. We have three new members, so the timing of this kind of professional development is critical,” Frisella said.

According to Jamie Danieli, executive administrative assistant at NJUHSD, management training was designed to help school boards learn best practices for effective board management and how to work as a team. District business was not conducted.

“Our team helps boards manage in a healthy space (even a healthy board is not free from conflict) to be productive, efficient and effective,” writes the Write Keys 2 Consulting website.

“This work should be done regularly. An overview of our mission, goals and vision. How do we communicate with each other? What are our communication styles? What do the protocols look like? How can we build trust with each other as board members? The public will see it too. Our work is done in front of the public. There should be no question as to why we make the decisions we make,” said Wendy Willoughby, Vice President of the NJUHSD Board.

“A board meeting is a business meeting held in public,” Gansky said. “We are working to listen to our number one constituency, the students. Voice and process focused on the student. Students stand up for their education.”

Legal guidelines have been revised, Gansky said, such as the rules for holding official meetings, known as the Brown Law, as well as encouraging courtesy and code of conduct.

“Our discussions were student-centered and included the rules and protocols that will guide the board’s work at board meetings going forward,” Frisella said.

The group worked on a draft document summarizing the ideas expressed at the meeting. The document will be posted on the county’s website and regularly referenced at meetings, Gansky said.

The NJUHSD Board of Trustees will publicly interview candidates for the fifth trustee position at its regularly scheduled meeting on February 8 and is expected to select a trustee to replace Jim Drew, who abruptly stepped down in December 2022.

“Sometimes it can be a little awkward,” Gansky said.

Board members are normally elected by the electorate, but as Frisella explained at the January 11 regular meeting, under the Education Code and the council’s bylaws, boards of directors can fill vacancies “due to resignation in one of two ways: 1. By making a provisional appointment, or 2. Order and payment for elections.

The time of occurrence of a vacancy affects the process.

“If a vacancy occurs more than four months before the end of a member’s term, the board must either call an election or make a provisional appointment. The council has 60 days to call an election or make a provisional appointment,” Frisella said.

NJUHSD is touting an open trustee position and is expected to select a new trustee on February 8th.

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