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Sunday, March 3, 2024 at 9:53 PM
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Candidate Profile -- Julie Guerrero-Goetsch for Churchill County School Board

Candidate Profile -- Julie Guerrero-Goetsch for Churchill County School Board
Julie Guerrero-Goetsch

I’ve lived in Fallon for over 22 years and raised my family here. My oldest daughter attends UNR and was a graduate of CCHS and my youngest daughter attends 8th grade at CCMS. I currently serve as the Administrative Services Manager for Churchill County, where I’ve worked for over 18 years, so I am no stranger to local government and public service to our community.

Through the years I’ve served on several committees and boards, some of which include past President of the Navy League, current Recording Secretary for the Fallon-Churchill Fire Board, and current Vice-Chair of the county’s Insurance Advisory Committee. I also work with a number of other boards, including the county commission. I have experience and understanding in open meeting law, ethics, government budgeting, creation of policy, goal setting, performance evaluations, etc.

My experience has given me a solid foundation coupled with a vested interest in the improvement of our school district.  The people elect School Board Trustees to represent them. I would be humbled by the opportunity to represent our community and put my knowledge and skills to use as a trustee.

 

The Churchill County School District has been designated a Purple Star school district that shows a commitment to students and families connected to the military.  How can the school district build upon that designation?

I commend the Churchill County School District for becoming the first Purple Star designated district in Nevada. Churchill County is a proud military community and home to Naval Air Station Fallon. The average military child will experience six to nine different schools between K-12. Moving every one to three years, many military families look for top-rated and high-achieving schools that position their children to succeed and easily transfer into large coastal city junior high and high schools.

The district needs to demonstrate a commitment to raising the bar for education, so students are well-prepared for the academic rigor at their next school.  The district should also continue working closely with NAS Fallon’s school liaison officer to ensure the new programming put into place at each of our schools is meeting the needs of the military-connected children and families.

 

The school district has outsourced food services.  Would you be in favor or not in favor if the school board wanted to extend outsourcing for janitorial services and transportation?

I am interested in achieving process improvement and cost efficiencies; however, the safety, interest, and well-being of our children must come first. While there may be some services that are efficiently handled through professional contracts, careful consideration must be given when evaluating in-house versus outsourcing for janitorial services and transportation. Dedicated career employees of the district who work as a team have a vested interest in their job, our children, and the program or service they provide.

I have heard from employees of the district over the years who have voiced significant concern regarding the interactions and relationships that devoted, observant, caring employees have with our students versus strangers working for a third-party contractor. I also have firsthand experience with the pros and cons of contracted services as an employee of the county. While outsourcing may present initial savings (on paper), there tends to be a greater cost over time with giving up direct control over who is hired, how services are provided, future contact increases, loss of institutional knowledge, loss of jobs in our community, and a loss to our students and staff.

 

 In selecting superintendents during the past 32 years, trustees have selected only one candidate from the local school district.  Should the district continue with this trend, or should the district develop administrative talent from within the district who would be qualified to lead the school district and build upon the status quo?

Selection of a superintendent should be for the best talent and best fit for the needs of our district.  The role of the superintendent is to carry out the mission, vision, and goals of the board, so it is vital for the board to work with the community to ensure transparency and clarity on what those goals are and then hold the superintendent responsible. Our local teachers and administrators should have opportunities to broaden their talents, capabilities, and qualifications.

Our track record indicates the board tends to hire from outside the district, which means that either teachers and administrators are not provided with ample professional development opportunities or there is a bias toward outside candidates. The emphasis should be on the selection of the best talent to carry out the goals of the board and the best fit for our district and community. 

 

Would you favor the continuation of the partnership between the school district and Western Nevada College by expanding more programs for high-school-level classes?

Our district is fortunate to have a local community college that is an engaged partner providing opportunities for our students. I absolutely favor continuing this partnership and expanding programming for high-school students. My own child benefited from this partnership a couple of years ago, while attending CCHS. Among the high school student population, there is a vast array of interests and abilities.

I support programs and opportunities that help set our students up for success, whether for college-bound students who can complete college credits at little to no cost to their families or for students seeking career and technical education programs.

 

School districts across the state have experienced problems in hiring staff and then keeping them in a rural setting.  As a trustee, what would you do to help Human Resources attract more educators and keep them in Churchill County?

As a trustee, I will work to ensure we create a positive environment where teachers feel heard and supported. I’ve had personal conversations with multiple teachers from each of our schools, and while pay scales need to be competitive and comparable with districts of similar size, the number one most common issue that teachers brought up was not feeling supported and trusted to do their job.

Teachers want to teach, and many feel they are bombarded with too many assessments, trainings, and meetings that overburden and take them away from preparation in the classroom. Policies need to be clear and consistent among the schools. If teachers are supported and feel like valuable members of a team, they are far more apt to stay within our district.

 

What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of our current school system?

 

One of our strengths is our teachers, many of whom go over and above and truly give their best to our students.  We also have some excellent athletic programs that have achieved outstanding results and positive recognition.

Some of our weaknesses include annual changes to school schedules and calendars which pose challenges for students and families; behavior issues and lack of consistency with discipline which creates frustration for teachers and disruption to students; academic performance; graduation rates; lack of support for our teachers; and teacher retention. Many of these issues are intertwined and must be addressed in order to create a positive culture that attracts and retains great educators.

 

What is the one biggest change, issue, or improvement you would like to see occur, or what would advocate for during your term on the school board?

The biggest improvement I would like to advocate for is student proficiency and graduation rates. The Nevada Department of Education recently released the 2021-22 school year accountability report cards. Of the 17 Nevada counties (Carson included), Churchill County ranked 15th with a 79.91% graduation rate, and although that represents an improvement over the past five years, we can and should do better.

Our high school specifically had the most dramatic impacts on ELA and Math proficiency rates when comparing pre-covid 2018-19 to 2021-22, which shows a drop of 8.1% in ELA to 44.7% proficiency and a drop of 7.7% in Math to 16.2% proficiency. In other words, 55.3% of students at CCHS are not proficient in ELA and 83.8% are not proficient in Math. The elementary and middle schools have similar struggles in these areas. There are a lot of components that go into improving proficiency, and it starts with improving the culture and learning environment for teachers and students.    

 

What is your opinion about communication between the board and the staff, visiting schools, and how many opportunities would you have to spend observing and talking to staff at school sites?

Communication between the board and staff, including visiting our schools is vitally important.  The superintendent is hired to carry out the goals of the board through effective, positive leadership, but teachers, staff, and school administrators are the “boots on the ground” and along with students are those most impacted by the board’s direction and the superintendent’s implementation 

Therefore, the board should have open communication with staff, a culture, and policies that support this communication, and time visiting all schools on a regular basis to observe the wheels in motion.

I am passionate about open communication with staff and committed to spending time observing in our schools. Trustees need to avail themselves of as much information as possible as they are decision-makers and need to see firsthand how the decisions they make positively or negatively impact our schools, teachers, and students. 

 

How would you proceed if your opinion is different from the rest of the board – would you be willing to stand your ground, build a coalition, or go with the flow?

If my opinion differs from the rest of the board, I will communicate. I would seek to understand other trustees’ positions, even if I do not agree, and then I’d share my own. Through listening and sharing my thoughts and opinions, I may change the minds of others. Much can be learned through open, transparent communication. There will and should be times when there is not a consensus amongst the trustees. Most importantly, any member of the public, staff, and other trustees understands why I vote for or against something. The people elect trustees to represent the people, not to “go with the flow”.       

 

What would your support level be for maintaining or improving the Career and Technical Education programs at the high school and middle school?

I am supportive of maintaining and improving CTE programs at CCHS and CCMS, and I was pleased to hear this summer that CCHS and WNC introduced the “Building Your Future Story Starts Here” program for students interested in earning certificates in welding, HVAC, auto, and machine tool technology, as well as programs for students interested in nursing, teaching, law enforcement, and cybersecurity.

Providing opportunities for student achievement for both college-bound students and those interested in learning a trade through CTE programs is vital to ensure successful futures for all students.


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