As the makeup of the East Valley School Board changed on Tuesday, members of the community were looking forward, sharing hopes for the future and celebrating current achievements.
Three new school board members – Fred Helms, Mike Novakovich and Justin Voelker – took the oath of office Tuesday in front of a full house, joining members Mike Harris and Mitch Jensen.
Superintendent John Glenewinkel thanked outgoing members Heidi Gillingham, Kerri Lunstroth and Roger Trainor before the new members took their place. He said serving on a school board means a lot of work and dedication without a lot of thanks.
Student Hanna Gillingham, a senior, thanked her mother and Lunstroth for their service to the district. She said her mother had lost a lot of sleep over the years and shed a lot of tears as she tried to make the best decision for students.
“Do not take your position lightly,” Hanna Gillingham told the board.
Another senior, Kaylyn Zastoupil, told the new board she has been choicing in to East Valley for the past seven years and wanted to point out some of the positive aspects of the district, including the AP program, College in the Classroom, Running Start and the opportunity to take extra classes online. She said she is proud there is no “pay to play” in the district’s sports programs and takes pride in the school’s spirit.
“I’m really proud to be a Knight,” she said.
Glenewinkel said Zastoupil has been named a commended student in the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Parent Guy Gifford said he has four students in East Valley schools and is proud of the district’s return to scratch cooking, the community garden, the science, technology engineering and math program. He told the board he felt the district was on the upswing.
Mindy Stewart, another parent, challenged the new board to listen to everyone in the district. She said there will always be cheerleaders and there will always be conspiracy theorists.
“And then there’s the rest of us,” she said.
Stewart reminded the board that many voters in the district are retirees without children in the schools. She asked the board to make inroads with them. She said she made a difficult decision to put her oldest child into private school, where she was surprised to find her input was taken into account, a notion she finds lacking in East Valley.
“Parental input is really a second-class citizen in this district,” Stewart said.
The board also elected a president, Novakovich, and vice president, Mike Harris.