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ELECTION 2012

Granite Bay voters to choose among three school board candidates

Two seats open on Eureka Union School District board of trustees
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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EDITOR'S NOTE: The Press Tribune is conducting Q&As with candidates for the four local school boards. All Q&As will be appear in print and be available on www.rosevillept.com. Three candidates are running for the Eureka Union School District board of trustees.

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Kristie Greiss, 41, moved to Granite Bay with her husband about 14 years ago. They have triplet daughters and a son. The Folsom native is a stay-at-home mom who works part-time as a diagnostic ultrasonographer.

Why did you originally run for the school board?

The same reason I'm running today: I think children are our future and I believe in public service and I wanted to invest my time and energy into something I believe strongly in. A school district affects the community in a number of ways. Anyone who's a resident, homeowner, business owner, employee of a business in this area, the fact that our district does well is something that benefits all of us.

What big issues face the district?

We have uncertainties with the state budget and ... I have no doubt (that will continue).

What are some accomplishments during your time on the board?

The fact we are able to maintain services and programs for our children that many school districts have long lost in California is huge. ... Taking a different approach to how we do business in the district has benefitted us in that we are drawing record numbers of inter-district transfers.

We just got our STAR testing results back and over the last four years we have continued to improve. We are an over-900 district that is No. 1 in the greater Sacramento area all the way up to the Oregon border. That's a huge accomplishment.

We have a schools foundation that is very helpful (and) I'm very proud of the work I've done with them and that the entire community has contributed to our foundation.

Probably the knee-jerk reaction to funding problems is to crank up class sizes and cut staffing and lose programs, but we decided to take a top-down approach. We've also had changes in our leadership and restructured our district office in a manner I believe is more effective.

What are the best aspects of the district?

The way the district comes together and gets the job done. We have a tremendously strong, dedicated staff and administration. We have loyal, dedicated, hard-working parents and amazing students and that's the triangle for success.

What are some areas for improvement?

Academically, we always set goals. We want to do the best job we can so schools don't just maintain the wonderful levels they're at right now but excel even further.

We need to balance our budget. We have a two-year plan and we've started with that and we need to continue.

What do you bring to the school board?

Spending a lot of time in the classroom, I get to observe not only my children but other children that may have different needs. I see the curriculum implemented in the classroom and how children respond. I bring an ability (to) have productive and professional dialogue.

For more information on Kristie Griess, visit www.VoteKristieGreiss.com.

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Ryan Jones, 35, is an attorney in Roseville and a reservist in the U.S. Air Force, serving as a JAG officer. He joined the Eureka school board in 2008 as a "way to give back" to his community.

Why are you running for re-election?

I care deeply about public education. I am a product of public education from kindergarten through (getting my degree at) UCLA. I look at my own four kids as the reason why I do it. I'm vested in this district and since I have a 9-month-old baby, I'll be around for at least 12 more years. I want what's best for them. I look at the other 3,400 (students) as like being my kids - I have some stewardship over them.

What big issues face the district?

We have to do more with less. We have to balance the fiscal responsibility of keeping our district solvent with providing an excellent educational product. So how you balance that is going to be very difficult, and it takes somebody with sound judgment and not being swayed by a vocal minority but doing what you think is best for kids. You have to be involved in customer service, and ours is providing great education to kids and parents. If they don't get it here, they're going to go somewhere else.

We have 585 (inter-district transfers) ... which speaks volumes to the quality of our programs. We have exceptional teachers, fantastic parents and a brand-new incredible superintendent.

But you can never rest on your laurels. You've got to keep moving forward ... I would be excited to be part of that team going forward to bring the district truly into the 21st century. We want to train our kids to be good global citizens and compete in a global economy.

Keeping class sizes low is important to me. Even though we have a difficult task with the budget - I want to balance the budget as soon as possible - my goal is to keep cuts out of the classroom as much as possible.

What can the district do better?

We have exceptional parents who have great resources, are very smart, very committed and we need to tap into that better and utilize them to help us. The same thing goes for local businesses - we can develop better partnerships. A comprehensive communication plan is something I want to see happen.

It's important to support our teachers and superintendent. They're the educational experts, not the school board. I'd like to get them the tools to succeed and set policies and goals for the district that help them be creative to figure out what they can do in the classroom to improve all our kids' education.

What do you bring to the board?

I bring sound judgment. I'm a calming presence. I always ask the question: What is best for kids? I can always feel confident I (made a decision) by that mantra.

For more information on Ryan Jones, visit www.ElectRyanJones.com.

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Renee Nash, 46, grew up in San Diego, moved north to attend University of California, Davis and loved the area so much she never left. The mother of four previously served as president of the Eureka Schools Foundation.

Tell me about your background.

My second job out of college brought me to Roseville in 1987 as a cub reporter for the Press Tribune. I went to McGeorge School of Law ... then was hired by (the California Newspapers Publishers Association) to do legislative advocacy and I represented them on First Amendment issues, public access, Brown Act, libel laws, anything relating to the public's right to know.

I worked for McClatchy, then became general counsel for News & Review ... and for the last decade I've worked for Professional Education Services, my family's business.

When I sit through school board meetings, it's very clear the issues they deal with are legal. The Education Code is not an easy thing to get through. They're always worried about what the Legislature is doing. Obviously, I know how to read and analyze legislation.

The Brown Act in particular is a passion of mine. If and when I'm on that board there will be no violations of the Brown Act. That's something I take very seriously.

Why are you running for the board?

Like most people in this community with children, I moved here because the schools are excellent. I've been impressed over the years that really bright people have come together and were willing to serve on the board and make decisions that benefit kids. We have the best district between here and the Oregon border.

(But we) can always be better. I bring a background and skill set to be more proactive, visionary, to engage in better budget analysis and oversight. We're continuing to deficit spend and I have a fundamental issue with that. I don't deficit spend in my household, I don't deficit spend in my business and I don't believe taxpayer dollars should be deficit spent.

What big issues face the district?

If our state budgetary issues continue, money is going to be an issue and that's where an understanding of how to run an organization, raise money, be creative and do more with less comes into play.

Technology is important. About five years ago, the district made a substantial investment in technology through district, Parent Teacher Council and foundation funds. ... We need to figure out how we're going to maintain that.

What do you consider the best aspects of the district?

Our teachers (are) so experienced and amazing. They've been asked to do more with less. Class sizes haven't grown as much as other districts and stayed static this year but certainly teachers have more students than 10 years ago and they have fewer resources from which to draw. And our parents: not only their willingness to step up financially to help the district, but their (commitment to volunteering).

For more information on Renee Nash, visit www.ElectReneeNash.com.