The Carson City School District Board of Trustees has appointed Family Life Committee member Dan Thornton to serve as a parent representative with a condition to appoint applicant Christine Sylvester as a non-voting alternate.
Previous discussion to fill a position on the advisory committee occurred during the board’s Oct. 25 meeting at which time Sylvester was being considered as an applicant when the trustees approved Stephanie Cook as a member. But Thornton’s current term was fulfilled as of November and a vacancy notice was advertised in the Nevada Appeal. Families were notified via the district’s ParentSquare message service.
Sylvester remained interested and attended Tuesday’s meeting, along with Thornton, and each were asked why they applied. She is a licensed professional engineer who works with Safe Routes to Schools representatives, has a background in biology and focused on pharmaceutical preclinical trials and has studied reproductive side effects and developmental abnormalities as a part of her research.
“I applied for the Family Life Committee as an opportunity to serve my community and get more involved in my daughter’s life,” she said. “And I view this as an opportunity to educate myself and to ensure that our children are getting the information to make critical life choices. These are decisions that can completely change our children’s life.”
Thornton has two children enrolled in Carson High School and volunteers with the school’s library and cross country fundraiser, and he also serves as a board member for Food for Thought and with the Center for Adaptive Riding.
“I feel like we are advising you on what could potentially be the most important decision in this time of their lives,” Thornton said of the committee’s role in guiding board decisions on student health.
Trustee Laurel Crossman said she believed the board had two excellent candidates for the position and thanked Sylvester for returning but leaned toward Thornton for the position. Crossman proposed the idea of opening an alternative for the committee in case a member was unable to attend a meeting due to illness or unforeseen circumstances.
“He’s the only male, and I think it’s important to have that perspective,” she said.
Trustee Mike Walker asked if appointing an alternate would require a policy change, and district legal counsel Ryan Russell said looking through the Nevada Revised Statutes, the board wasn’t prohibited from doing so.
“The committee has even chosen to appoint four non-voting pupils,” Russell said.
Sheila Story, committee chairperson and CHS chief nurse, said the advisory committee has canceled one or two meetings per year due to lack of quorum and noted at the end of this school year another counseling position will be available.
Trustee Joe Cacioppo said he was concerned about choosing alternates.
“We’re inadvertently precluding other people who want to run,” he said. “We’re not going to be going down that road tonight, but it makes me a little nervous.”
Trustee Mike Walker raised a motion to appoint Thornton to a three-year term as a parent representative with the condition that Sylvester become a non-voting alternate, with Trustee Don Carine seconding.
The board raised concerns about agendizing the item properly, and ultimately the item will return at a future meeting. Trustee Stacie Wilke-McCulloch said she was uncomfortable about having a non-voting alternate, although she supported the board in the end.
The board voted 6-1 on the motion, with Cacioppo opposing.
“I didn’t have big concerns, but I felt that the interested candidate, not the incumbent, represented herself well during the last meeting, and I was interested in giving her a chance as a new perspective on the committee,” Cacioppo told the Appeal after the meeting. “Mr. Thornton has been on the committee for years. He’s done a great job. I’m just for public committees seeing some turnover and new ideas.”
The administration now will examine the district’s bylaws to determine if the alternate’s term would serve the same three-year term as a representative or if he or she automatically would fill a vacancy left by a representative, according to district spokesman Dan Davis.
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