Wilson leaves school board
January 7, 2013
When Joanna Wilson took office on the Carson City School board, she had five children in school, ranging from a senior down to a pre-schooler.
As Wilson steps down from the board 12 years later, her youngest is now a senior at Carson High School.
“I raised all my kids, and I have five grandchildren now,” she said. “It was a whole life experience.”
In that time, her attorney husband, Jim, was also elected judge.
While it was a busy time in her life, Wilson said, she is happy she dedicated a portion of it to public work.
“I’m glad I did it, really glad I did it, actually,” she said. “I felt like I contributed to something in the community that’s important.”
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Wilson was elected to the board, replacing Gary Ailes, in 2000. She worked one year with then-Superintendent Jim Parry before Mary Pierczynski took over the job, and has worked with Superintendent Richard Stokes since he was hired to the position in 2008. She’s confident in Stokes’ ability to run the schools.
“Richard is a good person to work with,” she said. “He’s a smart man and a gentle man. He works very hard to keep the school district on an even keel, and that’s what it needs right now.”
Through the first half of her tenure on the board, she and other trustees helped the district secure nearly $12 million in reserve funding. However, in the last few years, the board has seen that dwindle to the point that the district is facing a $5.5 million budget shortfall this year with a similar deficit forecasted for next year.
She said the board will have to make some difficult decisions.
“We’ve cut any crayon we can cut,” she said, adding that she will miss being part of that process.
“I’d like to see it through, but it’s also good to get some new blood,” she said.
Known for being direct when speaking with community members or fellow trustees, Wilson said it was a quality needed during critical discussions.
“I’m pretty opinionated,” she said. “I tend to not be able to keep it to myself. But the board is not designed to be ‘yes’ men. We need to talk about things and work through things. Once we do, then we come together.”
Wilson, who reached her term limit, will be replaced with Joe Cacioppo. Trustee Jim Lemaire, who did not run for re-election after serving eight years, will be replaced with Laurel Crossman.
Wilson’s advice for the two new trustees is to take time to learn the function of the school district and role of the board.
“Listen,” she advised. “Listen for a long time. Government runs very differently than the private sector. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t talk, but make sure to understand everything.”
“My biggest fear is micromanagement,” she said. “We don’t run the school district. That’s not our job.”
Wilson said she has no intentions of running for any other office, but will remain involved with the school district, sitting on the bond committee and volunteering in schools.
And she’ll always have a fondness for her time on the board.
“I’ll miss it,” she said. “There were times it was stressful, but it was it was a lot of fun. It was a good run.”