School district board back to seven members |

School district board back to seven members

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer

Jeff Fontaine, a resident of Carson City for the past 19 years, was selected unanimously by the Carson City School Board of Trustees on Tuesday night to replace Sheila Ward, who stepped down in late January after she moved outside her seat’s zone.

Fontaine has a 4-year-old and 19-month-old twins – much of the reason motivating him to run, he told the board – since his children will eventually be in city schools.

“I’m very honored, I’m overwhelmed,” he said after being selected. “It was unanimous. It was nice to have the support. It was a nice welcome to the board.”

Fontaine, 51, has been the director of the Nevada Department of Transportation since June 2003 and holds master’s degrees in environmental engineering and environmental health sciences. He will begin serving at the April school board meeting.

Fontaine told trustees he believes the largest issue in the Carson City School District is preparing students to deal with a changing world.

“The demands placed on students today are certainly far different from when I was in school,” he said.

He also thought it was important for the school district to address why many of its graduates need remedial classes in college.

The three candidates for the position, including business man Roger Kirkland and retired Carson City School District teacher Louis Granier, were interviewed in public at the meeting.

They answered questions about what they saw as the role of the school board and the superintendent, how they would contribute to the board, and how they would build a school district from scratch, if they had the chance.

Fontaine said he would like to see a reduction in class sizes, funding for underfunded programs and possibly teacher incentives for performance. Granier expressed interest in year-round kindergarten and a district with multiple language options for students at an early age. Kirkland said he’d like to see students progress at their success level, not necessarily by their age, and that he would also like an incentive program for teachers .

The trustee position was advertised in the newspaper four times over a period of a month, far surpassing the requirement by law. Fontaine will serve out the remainder of Ward’s position, which expires at the end of this year.

Also at the meeting, the board approved district Superintendent Mary Pierczynski’s recommendation that Eagle Valley Middle School vice principal Laura Austin become principal of Mark Twain Elementary School in the 2006-07 year. Principal Kathy Adair is retiring.

“I’m thrilled because I was vice principal there three years ago, and I was also ESL coordinator for the district,” Austin said. “I feel like I’m going home again. I really am very excited.”

— Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.