Three vie for Douglas County school board seat

MINDEN - A teacher and a case worker are challenging Douglas County School Board District 3 trustee John Raker for the seat he has held since he was appointed to replace Diane McCoy in December 1998.

Raker, who owns a State Farm Insurance office in Minden, faces teacher Randy Green and part-time domestic violence/sexual assault caseworker John Louritt.

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Raker, 57, moved to Carson Valley in 1993 with his wife, Maria, and children Michael and Lisa. Both children attend Carson Valley schools. Lisa starts at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School and Michael is a sixth-grader at Meneley Elementary School.

He has two grown children, both of whom live outside the country.

Raker said now that a tentative agreement has been made between teachers and administrators for the teacher contract, both sides can begin to repair rifts that occurred during the 18 months of negotiations.

"Unfortunately, the state Legislature pitted the teachers against the district and I'm glad we finally did reach a negotiation," Raker said.

There's a need for a coordinated effort to lobby the Legislature for a pay raise next year, Raker said.

"In my opinion, it borders on negligence to continue to demand higher standards without compensation. Two years ago when Gov. (Kenny) Guinn was first brought into office, he gave pay raises to all state workers except teachers and that's unconscionable.

"They've got to pay more to attract and retain the very best teachers. We need to figure out a way for the state to justify a pay raise," he said.

Raker said he wants people to know he supports the strategic plan and he supports Superintendent Pendery Clark.

"I want to make sure we continue the implementation of the strategic plan. It was put into play in 1994 by a very far-sighted group of folks on the school board. It's got to be carried out. We're in the actual day-to-day workings, and in order to succeed, we've got to continue the plan as it's currently laid out," Raker said.

Green, 48, has taught at Douglas High School for 23 years. He said he doesn't want to be considered as a teacher representative and believes there isn't a conflict of interest for a teacher to sit on the school board.

"As a government teacher, I'm afraid when the government writes laws to protect people from their own ignorance. If the elective body clearly has a problem with a teacher on the school board, the easiest way to find that out is at the ballot box," Green said.

Green maintains he has a right to run for the board despite a Nevada statute that says no one with an interest in any contract the school board considers may sit on the board.

Green, whose wife, Karen, is also a DCSD teacher, has two grown children who went through the district. He said the schools have many positive facets, but he has grave concerns about the direction the district is heading.

Green spent much of the summer visiting family in Texas, where he witnessed a school system that was in a state of disrepair because teachers are required to teach students only how to pass tests.

"Teachers (in Texas) are leaving because the most important area of learning - quality instruction - is being done in a superficial way," Green said. "We are moving in that direction and asking teachers to participate in that and call it learning. "

Louritt, 54, is a domestic violence and sexual assault case worker at Family Support Council. His daughter Karlye is a senior at Douglas High School, and his wife, Marty, an assistant librarian at the high school.

Louritt said the school district can be more effective when healthy relationships are built based on respect for all parties.

"All the segments involved in education - parents, teachers, the superintendent, the board, students and taxpayers - you have to have open communication between all the parties. People have to not cross respectful boundaries. It is OK to disagree, but you have to fight fair and don't cross those boundaries," Louritt said.

Louritt said he thinks the settlement about the teachers' contract was fair.

While campaigning door-to-door, Louritt said he has heard many complaints, but has found there is some dissatisfaction that the current board extended Superintendent Pendery Clark's contract.

Louritt said he can not make a decision about that issue until he knows more about Clark and her management style.

"I'm sitting on the fence. I think the board has a job to do. If that board thinks she is doing the job, then they did what was best for the community. I don't know the superintendent. I would need to learn more before I make a decision on if she's effective. Because you can be effective without being popular," Louritt said.


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