Leslie Edlund, foreground, interviews with the Plumas Unified School District governing board to become its newest trustee during a special meeting Nov. 1. Edlund will replace Betty Moura whose term ends this month. PUSD Superintendent Micheline Miglis, left, and her assistant Patty McCutcheon listen as a school board member poses a question. Photo by Debra Moore
Plumas Unified School District’s newest trustee is the mother of two school-age children, a leading force in Quincy’s 7-11 committee, a five-year president of the elementary school’s parent cooperative, a classroom volunteer and fundraiser. She also works part-time for the Forest Service.
“Being on the governing board takes a substantial amount of time … how will this time commitment impact your life?”
That was the 13th and final question asked of Quincy resident Leslie Edlund during a special school board meeting Nov. 1. Edlund was the sole applicant to succeed Betty Moura, whose term on the school board ends this month.
“My schedule is very flexible and I have a very supportive employer and boss,” Edlund said of her position as the assistant minerals officer on the Plumas National Forest. Additionally, Edlund said that she is transitioning out of the presidency of the parent cooperative, which would free up more time.
During the roughly 30-minute interview, the school board members took turns posing questions from a printed list provided to them.
Edlund was asked about her experience, why she would be a good school board member and about the board’s role.
As to her background and experience, Edlund highlighted her work on the 7-11 committee, her tenure as president of the parent cooperative, her service on the school site council, and her volunteer time in the classroom. Edlund and her husband, Steve Ross, are the parents of Nathan, a ninth-grader at Quincy High School, and William, a fifth-grader at Pioneer-Quincy Elementary School.
Edlund said that her experiences have kept “her really in touch with what is going on in the schools.”
When asked why she wants to serve on the school board, Edlund pointed to the past and the future.
“I feel like my background … my parents were involved in education and public service,” she said. “I have two children in school. I have a vested interest.”
Several of the questions revolved around the school board’s role and what she would like to see it achieve.
Edlund said that she thought it was the school board’s role to oversee finances, curriculum, and personnel and to be a liaison between the community and the district office. She said she would like to see the district achieve “financial stability,” and “eliminate disparity” in the classroom, which included both students and parents.
“The disparity between over-achievers and low-achievers and people who are involved and others who are not participating,” she said, was something that she wanted to address.
Edlund was also asked if she could keep an open mind if financial conditions made it necessary to close schools or lay off teachers.
She responded that she had several friends who were young teachers, some of whom received layoff notices this year.
Edlund said it’s important to take a balanced approach to school finance.
Edlund said her work on the 7-11 committee helped her understand the district’s financial situation, but she knew that she had more to learn.
“I am a quick learner,” she said. “And I am willing to commit to you that I will work diligently.”
When asked about the strengths and weaknesses of the current board, Edlund said that she thought that the current board had gone through difficult times and she was impressed with the outreach that the board had done with the communities. As for a weakness, she thought the board could interact more with school sites.
When the questions were answered, the board was scheduled to discuss Edlund’s appointment to the board.
Trustee Bret Cook said, “I think discussion is unnecessary; just want to move to a vote.”
After a few comments about her tenure on the 7-11 committee and her qualifications, trustee Betty Moura made the motion to appoint Edlund, which was unanimously approved.
Edlund will be sworn into office during the board’s December meeting and will serve though November 2016, at which time she could run for re-election.
Edlund will replace Moura, who herself had been appointed in May to fulfill the term vacated by trustee Brad Baker. Baker’s term would have ended this month, but he resigned from the board last March after being served with a recall notice.
“I was on the board because I felt an obligation to help the district,” said Moura, who was one of two people to interview for Baker’s position after he resigned. “I knew they were bringing on a new superintendent and I wanted to help.”
But now that the new superintendent has been hired, Moura said it’s time for someone else to represent the East Quincy area.
“It’s way too demanding,” Moura said of the role of school board trustee. “I’m 67 and it’s time to slow down.”
Not that Moura is slowing down completely. She works with the Feather River Land Trust and paints barn quilts.
Moura said that she thinks Edlund will be an excellent trustee.
“She’s intelligent; she’s been involved in the schools,” Moura said.
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