The Carson City School Board of Trustees appointed local businessman and commercial real estate developer Daniel Thornton to fill a vacant position on the Family Life Committee at its Dec. 10 meeting.
The board was seeking to fill the position at the Dec. 10 meeting after recognizing former member Jennifer Cherpeski’s service on the committee. Cherpeski applied to the committee more than 10 years ago and was honored with a plaque at the meeting.
The district’s advisory committee assists in defining sex education instruction and curriculum, addresses human reproductive issues and communicable diseases and sexual responsibility and reviews materials at its monthly meetings throughout the school year. The committee consists of five parent volunteers of students enrolled in Carson City schools, four representatives from the medical profession, counseling, the faith community and an educator, and five students.
Trustees chose Thornton, a fifth-generation Nevadan and father of three, including a freshman at Carson High School and a sixth grader at Carson Middle School, over Shanna Krueger, a 20-year educator and mother of three children in Carson City School District elementary schools.
Both candidates had an opportunity to appear before the board on Dec. 10 to answer questions about their qualifications and defend their interest in serving on the committee.
Thornton said he believed his male perspective and ability to speak his mind would be useful for the committee, particularly among a group comprised primarily of women.
“There were 15 women and there was not one male in that room,” he said of a previous meeting he had attended.
He said his even-keeled and sensitive nature would be useful for helping to make these decisions on behalf of families.
“I think I have a well-rounded perspective and I am flexible for new information,” he said. “I will also speak my mind if there’s something that needs to be stated. I am careful about how I do that. I’m very ethical.”
Krueger, who has taught government part-time, said she’s examined court cases and issues that parents aren’t comfortable with, defending her ability to remain objective on the law.
“I think I’ve done a really good job of keeping my own vices out of it and looking at the law,” she said. “When it comes to the Family Life Committee, I have to look at what the law says and what we can do legally, and I know parents aren’t going to be happy with me.”
Thornton said adults should speak with their children with respect, staying mindful that youth are “way ahead of the game” because of evolving technologies.
“If you give respect, you get respect,” Thornton said.
Krueger said it would be important for the committee to keep up with the students on a personal basis.
“It’s amazing students think they can learn anything on YouTube instead of keeping up with the adults in their lives,” she said. “We have so much to give our students and our families, but honestly, I deal with students in the hallways and in the classrooms, and they think they know more than us and don’t necessarily want to learn from us.
According to committee chairperson Sheila Story, Carson High School school nurse and chief nurse for the school district, who also attended the meeting and introduced the candidates, the group reviews materials brought by health teachers seeking guidance before presenting them in the classroom to ensure appropriateness, and the committee can approve or deny them. Resources could include videos, pamphlets, presentations or PowerPoints, she said. The committee has denied materials before.
“We want to make sure our students in Carson City have a well-rounded perspective that potentially could impact them in the future,” Story said. “We invite everyone who might have a topic to share to call me to put them on the agenda.”
She also encourages students with senior projects to reach out as well, adding student representatives on the committee also provide a crucial point of view in reviewing the materials that come before the committee.
“They really are a part of the larger discussion, and they help make sound decisions,” Story said. “They might bring a different perspective being in high school, and we’re adults and we’ve already gone through that growth and development phase, and they keep us on our toes.”
The board voted 5-2 in favor of Thornton. Thornton will serve a three-year term on the committee and encouraged Krueger to continue encouraging the meetings to provide her input.
Family Life Committee meetings take place at 6:30 p.m. the first Mondays of the month at Carson High School, 1111 N. Saliman Road.