Three candidates vying for two school board seats |

Three candidates vying for two school board seats

Jill Darby

Three candidates are vying for two open seats on the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education.

Jonnie Crawford, Wendy David, board president, and interim board member Madeline Fernald have announced candidacy for the Nov. 6 ballot.

David’s original term is up Dec. 7, as is the position formerly held by Stacy Romagnolo.

Romagnolo resigned from the school board in July, due to conflict of interest, when her husband, Mark Romagnolo became the likely candidate to replace Virginia Matus-Glenn as principal at Sierra House Elementary School. Glenn accepted a grant-writing position with the school district and Mark Romagnolo later was hired for the principal position. Fernald was appointed by the board to assume Romagnolo’s seat for the remainder of the term.

Crawford, who has been a resident at South Lake Tahoe for 35 years, was one of 12 candidates who ran for three open board positions in 1999. Lennie Schwartz, Bernadette Santana and Sue Yang won the race. Their terms do not expire until 2003.

A mother of three children who went through Lake Tahoe Unified School District, Crawford said focusing on literacy would be her main goal as a board member.

“Every child in the community should be literate,” she said. “They should be able to read and to write and to listen. I think they should have speaking skills. The district has fallen behind on these things, which have to be taught in primary grades.”

Crawford said de facto segregation in Lake Tahoe Unified schools is an important issue which must be addressed by the board.

“Some children aren’t integrated until they get to the middle school if they get integrated at all,” Crawford said. “It’s a hard thing to solve but it has to be solved or we’re just going to have more and more problems.”

David, who expressed a strong dedication to youth-focused organizations in the community, announced her candidacy in July for a second term on the board.

A Court Appointed Special Advocate program volunteer for six years, David was hired last year as CASA’s case manager. She is a volunteer for Bread and Broth and Tahoe Magic, president of Soroptimist International of Tahoe Sierra and actively involved with Lake Tahoe Presbyterian Church, as well as youth athletic programming at South Shore.

David said she believes one’s first four years on the school board should be spent learning and the next four, leading.

“Our district is moving forward in a very positive direction,” David said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of that for the next four years.”

David said there always will be challenges facing the school district and she values the opportunity to be a member of the team which works toward solving those challenges.

“We may be facing declining enrollment,” said David, a 28-year resident of South Lake Tahoe. “I see another challenge in matching test standards for the state of California. It’s always a challenge to stay fiscally responsible to the district. Those are challenges that will always exist so it’s important to stay strong and move forward as a team as you face these challenges.”

Fernald moved to South Shore with her family in 1998 and has two children in the Lake Tahoe Unified system.

She works at Lake Tahoe Community College as the director of Activity One for the Title 3 grant. A certified biology teacher in California, Fernald has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a master’s from the University of North Florida.

Fernald, who said in July she felt honored to be appointed to Romagnolo’s former board seat, served as a parent volunteer at Al Tahoe Elementary School and worked as an instructional aide for nine teachers at Sierra House Elementary.

“I’ve been on the board now for about six weeks,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first was appointed but I knew what I wanted in a board and I have to say this board exceeded my expectations, which is wonderful. I hoped to find a school board that really has the children’s interests at heart, that really understands fiscal responsibility and really adheres to it.”

Like David, Fernald also views declining enrollment as a major challenge facing the board and the district.

“The greatest challenge I see for the whole school district is declining enrollment,” Fernald said. “But we have an excellent group of educators in Tahoe and I know together, we’ll figure it out. If we all come forward with our great ideas, we’ll find a solution that benefits everybody.”

The Lake Tahoe Educational Foundation is hosting a public forum Oct. 11 for the three candidates running in the November school board election. The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District office at 1021 Al Tahoe Blvd.

Each candidate will be given the opportunity to make general remarks, as well as respond to questions from the audience. The community is encouraged to attend.

The Lake Tahoe Educational Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support for the enhancement of instructional programs and the educational opportunities for the students and teachers of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. The foundation is not making endorsements in the school board election.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.