If you attended any school district meeting, parent meeting or collaborative meeting in the past year, there’s one person and his laptop you were sure to see there taking notes and paying close attention. Dave Keller.
He’s now been appointed to the Plumas Unified School District’s board representing the district’s Indian Valley schools, and replaced retiring board member Bret Cook.
According to Keller, several residents, including teachers, district officials and his family, encouraged him to seek the position. He feels his position on the board could help influence the district’s approach to public education.
Originally from the Hawthorne South Bay area of Los Angeles, Keller has been a resident of Indian Valley for the last five years and a resident of Quincy for 20 years before that. This is one of the factors that he feels makes him qualified to sit on the board.
“All board decisions have an impact on all residents, and I need to keep that in mind. I believe it is my duty to always place Indian Valley’s needs first, but I also think it’s essential to balance that obligation with what is important and necessary for all schools in Plumas County,” said Keller.
Keller’s daughter graduated from Quincy High School in 2011, and one of his stepdaughters graduated from Greenville High School in 2014. His other two stepdaughters currently attend Greenville High School. It serves to keep him current on the daily life of GHS and what’s happening in the schools in the district.
Keller’s background is in media. He worked for Feather Publishing for eight years as well as local radio. He feels it has given him a “broad, thorough knowledge of how the school district has changed and evolved over time.”
His invested volunteer time in the audience of many a meeting in years prior means he’s well aware of the challenges the district faces. The most significant in Indian Valley being the relationship between GHS and Indian Valley Academy.
“I believe trying to create a working relationship between Greenville High School and Indian Valley Academy is essential. I would like to see some kind of partnership, because I believe that’s in the best interest in the Indian Valley community at large — but the partnership needs to contain perimeters and objectives that both the school district and Plumas Charter can completely buy into and commit to,” said Keller.
He also realizes that what the schools look like now could change. “It could mean both schools on one campus or it could mean each school on different sites. That remains to be seen, but both schools must be served through the partnership. Otherwise, it’s pointless and doomed to failure.”
His experience as head football coach has also given him firsthand experience of where IVA and GHS schools come together in athletics — and how they need each other to succeed.
Keller feels another area that can be a challenge is academic excellence.
“While we currently have terrific teaching staff at Greenville High School and Indian Valley Elementary, we need to continue to foster an environment in which all students receive the best educational opportunities possible. I do not have any specific complaints about our schools, but I think there is always room for improvement.”
He also is mindful of the passing of Measure B. “Another challenge is ensuring that Measure B funds are allocated properly. We have a golden opportunity here to preserve, improve and transform our campuses. We cannot waste this chance because the district’s future and millions and millions of dollars are at stake.”
He does see the PUSD board and district going in the ‘right’ direction. He points to GHS avoiding the turnover of principals, which had plagued the school for a number of years. He wants to avoid further declining enrollments.
“Constant turnover leads to morale issues among staff, confusion among students and loss of confidence by parents. We should never have a parent think, “Well, maybe our daughter might be better served if we move to Chico or Reno and enroll them there,” said Keller.
Above all, Keller says he remains positive about the district. “[Our teachers] are constantly working to create value for the students. As a result, unlike larger, suburban and urban school districts, we have comparatively fewer students falling between the cracks. Indeed, when infrequent problems do arise, we are small enough, interested enough and compassionate enough to immediately address these issues.”