Two are running for one open seat on the Mountain Valley School District Board of Trustees, and both are parents of MVUSD students. Two incumbent office holders on the Mountain Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees filed to retain their positions uncontested: Angela Riggs and Keith Wright. In most cases, an uncontested incumbent office holder will not appear on the November ballot.
Kenny Wiley Jr. and Sidney Brown announced their candidacy this year to compete for the seat left by Maura Klopfer.
Wiley is a father of three boys who are in elementary school and he has lived in Hayfork his whole life, minus four years in the U.S. Army, active duty. He said he wants to help give the administration a public perspective of how the community feels it should be setting goals for the local school district, adding that parents and the public have input on district goals.
Following are his answers to some questions from the Journal staff.
What do you see as the responsibilities of a school board? I feel like a school board should be providing a community members’ perspective to the superintendent and staff on goals for the district, as well as a being a voice to the public when specific items are in question. A board member should consider the superintendent’s expertise, the community and parents’ wishes, and finally the states laws to vote accordingly to best benefit the district overall.
Do you have the time it takes to dedicate to the board? Yes, I do have the time to spend at the monthly meetings. Not only do I have time to commit to the board, but one benefit of working in a public place, is that people can come to our business much more often than they can come to a monthly board meeting to express their feelings. I can then relay that info to the rest of the board and the admininstration if the individual cannot attend themselves.
What’s your vision for the school district? As for the immediate goals, getting school back to full time as soon as possible. Long-term goals are identifying how our kids are entering the work world and how we can design our school to prepare them for the real future, not just the academic dreams of sending kids to college. For example, how many kids move on to trade jobs like electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mill workers? We should be really focusing on how much time and training we are giving to the kids on skills they will most likely be implementing in their future. At the same time, we cannot disregard the fact that we live in a very technologically driven world and we need to make sure the kids are prepared for that as well. My goals are to prepare kids to be highly functioning adults in real world applications.
What are some of the challenges faced by the Mountain Unified School District and how can you help? Lack of community and parent input is always a challenge for any school district, but I think that is a challenge that we can quickly address with public information and encouragement to attend meetings. The school being rebuilt at a multi-year pace obviously is a challenge to kids and staff alike. No immediate answer for that but is most definitely a challenge for MVUSD.
How will you stay apprised of whether the board’s goals and policies are being carried out? Accountability. We meet every month so there should be a discussion every month on how the policies are working or are not working. To me, this is pretty simple, ask the superintendent to give a progress report each time you meet. One of the many benefits from my military experience is seeing how well the chain of command works when the system is implemented. The board should hold the superintendent accountable, the superintendent holds the principal accountable, the principal holds the teachers and aides accountable, and the teachers and parents hold the children accountable. Some issues can be resolved laterally and some need to go to the top!
What life or educational experience do you possess that qualifies you to be a board member? I’ve lived here my whole life and will spend the remainder of my life here. I feel like I have a good understanding of the community and have relationships with many people than can help facilitate and expedite policies and projects. As I stated above I have been a part and the U.S. Military Chain of Command, and that system has been proven time and again. I have been a part of many local organizations and have learned to be diplomatic and remember that even though there may be tough situations, to make decisions based on the greater good.
Is there anything about yourself you’d like the community to know? I care a great deal about the overall health of our community and this position of board member of MVUSD couldn’t come at a better time. Exercise your voting right!
Sidney Brown is a mother of four, two of which are enrolled in the district and two that are still at home. She grew up in Hayfork and wants to raise her family there as well. Brown said she wants to be more involved in her community and the education of its children.
Following are Brown’s answers to our questions.
What do you see as the responsibilities of a school board? I believe the school board should be taking input from parents, staff, and community members and making the decisions accordingly.
Do you have the time it takes to dedicate to the board? I stay at home with two of my younger children so I do have extra time to dedicate to the school board.
What’s your vision for the school district? My vision for the school district is one where students receive the best education there is to offer. I would like to see the best candidates filling positions in the district. I would like to see the voice of the community being heard at the board meetings, and board members voting accordingly.
What are some of the challenges faced by the Mountain Unified School District and how can you help? One challenge the MVUSD school district faces is effectively communicating with parents. I would like to find ways to make sure parents are kept up to date with events and when the parents are welcome to participate.
One challenge the MVUSD school district faces is parent involvement. Some parents would like to be involved and are not sure how they can do that. I would try to find ways that parents could be involved in their children’s education and school by opening up the lines of communication.
Another challenge the district has is there is little community participation in board meetings. I would plan to advertise better the dates of the board meetings and where parents and community members can find meeting minutes and agendas. I would also personally seek out and invite community members to participate. The district website could also be updated.
How will you stay apprised of whether the board’s goals and policies are being carried out? The best way to stay apprised of making sure board policies are being carried out is by visiting classrooms, school campuses, by attending sporting events and special occasions and witnessing first-hand how teachers and administration are carrying out the board policies.
What life or educational experience do you possess that qualifies you to be a board member? I currently have two children enrolled in the school district and two more that will eventually be enrolled. I have a vested interest in making this district the best that it can be and making decisions that will ultimately affect the education of my children.
Is there anything about yourself you’d like the community to know? I truly want the voice of the community heard at board meetings. The community is an important part of the school district and I plan to make my decisions accordingly.