Parent or administrator?
There are a lot of campaign posters to keep track of for candidates running for the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees. After 20 candidates ran in the primary, there are now two non-partisan candidates in each race for elections in districts E, A, D and G (the open strings on the violin).
This week we look at District D—the race between Ken Grein and Malena Raymond. Incumbent Howard Rosenberg did not seek re-election.
Grein served as the District D representative from 2008 until 2012 when Rosenberg defeated him. Prior to that, Grein had a 36-year career in the Washoe School District, working as a teacher, principal, area superintendent and superintendent of operations.
He was part of the Board of Trustees that hired former superintendent Pedro Martinez, who received a $700,000 settlement against the district in 2014 when the school board ousted him.
“It was the board’s fault that caused that payment,” said Grein. “There were a lot of ugly things going on.”
Grein calls for audits on what he calls a top-heavy administration. He said during his time there were three area superintendents for 68,000 students in the school district. “Now, my understanding is there are 10 area superintendents with no additional enrollment,” he said. “And I guess to me that is a waste of money. It could be better used.”
He disagrees with the way the previous board hired and approved the contract of current Superintendent Traci Davis without a formal interview.
Grein speaks highly of Washoe School District CPA Paula Ward, who would conduct the proposed internal audit. Ward ran and won the primary election for school board in District E, but has since withdrawn her candidacy, leaving the seat to incumbent member Angie Taylor.
Whereas Grein’s experience with school board politics and administration is his self-stated strong suit, his opponent is taking a different approach.
“To me, as a voter and a parent, I’m just ready to see some new faces at the table,” said Malena Raymond. Her child is a second grader at Jesse Beck Elementary. She serves on the board of directors for the Holland Project and is a consultant for the Committee to Aid Abused Women.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a time to just bring the old board back. I want to be looking at a group of trustees that are ready to dig in and work hard to move the district forward, and I’m not sure that having [Grein’s] level of experience is necessarily a good thing at a time like this.”
Raymond has taken to social media to garner support, touting her endorsement from Mayor Hillary Schieve next to #tbt photos and candids from the campaign trail.
Both candidates in this race support the revenue generating ballot initiative, Washoe County Question 1 (WC-1). Both would like to avoid double sessions and get schools off of multi-track schedules.
“I hope that it’s real clear to the community how that money is spent,” said Grein.
“I think the oversight committee that is going to be suggesting use of funds is an important component of the ballot question and the future of those funds,” said Raymond.