Fernald won’t seek re-election: Filing period for LTUSD extended; Nemes becomes candidate | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Fernald won’t seek re-election: Filing period for LTUSD extended; Nemes becomes candidate

William Ferchland

After four years on the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education, the second-longest-tenured member has decided not to seek re-election this fall.

Madeline Fernald decided Monday not to file for candidacy to retain her seat on the five-member board. Since one of the two incumbents holding the seat up for November election has decided not to run, the filing deadline for potential candidates will be extended from Friday to Aug. 17.

The decision not to run, which haunted Fernald for months, stemmed from taking a position in June at Sierra Crest Academy, a charter school in Minden.

Fernald wanted to wait until she determined the time commitment to her new job of being a science adviser/teacher and if it would interfere with the 10 to 25 hours a week she said she devoted to the school board.

In the end, she figured it would.

“It is very hard for me to step away just because I love it,” Fernald said.

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She said she “won’t stop having my hand in the district” and the decision not to run was made easier with the hiring of Superintendent James Tarwater and the direction the district has taken.

In the time after Tarwater was hired in June, a magnet school was approved to open this September, alternative education boosted and fee-based programs added.

“I think the direction is great,” Fernald said. “It’s a little easier to step away.”

Appointed to the board in August 2001 and retaining her seat in an election the following November, Fernald often notified fellow members during board reports of things that piqued her interest.

Such announcements spanned from her exposure to literature of philosophies behind education to museum presentations.

She said she accomplished her two main goals of being a board member: to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and help increase community involvement.

A bit disenchanted that her expectation of directing education policy was not met and instead feeling more like an overseer, Fernald said she was most frustrated with the constraints on school funding.

She said she was most pleased when working with community members.

Four years ago, when competing with fellow incumbent Wendy David (who has announced she will seek re-election this November) and challenger Jonnie Crawford for two seats, the district had 5,712 students during the 2000-01 school year.

The enrollment projection for this upcoming school year is about 4,500 students. In those four years the district experienced three superintendents (Tarwater being the third), a failed parcel tax and closure of two schools.

“It’s a completely different school district at this point,” Fernald said.

In related news, retired teacher John Nemes filed for candidacy to run for one of two open seats on the school board. He joins candidate Angela Swanson, and David, the incumbent and current board president.

Nemes was a longtime teacher for Meyers Elementary before being transferred to Tahoe Valley Elementary last school year. He could not be reached for comment late Tuesday but had previously hinted at running.

In a letter printed June 27 in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Nemes lambasted Tarwater’s annual pay of $143,500, accused the board of not looking forward enough on financial and enrollment matters and making poor staffing decisions.