By Debra Moore
Serving on the school board is so much more than attending a monthly meeting. It involves endless hours of research, studying budgets, meeting with parents and staff, keeping current on ed codes and regulations, and dealing with the latest challenges — most recently the pandemic and fires. After 10 years of serving on the Plumas Unified School District governing board, Leslie Edlund is well aware of the commitment required. Yet, she is seeking another 4-year term; why?
“I care about what happens to our kids, our district, and public education,” Edlund said. “I enjoy the education community and interacting with people whose passion and common goal is making it better for kids.”
During an interview this past Saturday morning, Edlund reflected on her tenure in office and what she still would like to accomplish if elected to another term. She is facing challenger Coby Hakalir to represent Trustee Area 5 – a geographical area that encompasses portions of East Quincy to Graeagle.
Edlund is a Forest Service employee who is currently the recreation officer on the Mount Hough Ranger District. Her two sons were raised in Quincy and attended Plumas Unified schools. On the day of our interview, she planned to deliver some yard signs, meet with constituents and take a long walk outdoors with her dog.
Her job and her love of the outdoors is reflected in one of the areas that she is most proud of in the district — expansion of outdoor education. “We used to have a sixth-grade outdoor ed program and now it’s expanded to K-12,” she said. “It’s great to tap into our own backyards in our rural communities, and the kids are really engaged.” Edlund said that the curriculum incorporates all disciplines and is more than science alone.
She also is pleased that the district added a six-week summer school program and an afterschool program using COVID funds. The funds were also used to add more aides to the classrooms.
“The COVID funds allowed us to address the challenges from the pandemic,” Edlund said. Even though education continued via remote learning, it has been recognized nationally that student learning was impacted. Edlund said that one elementary school principal said, “I have more support than ever before.”
And Edlund wants to provide more support for district employees. While she can’t divulge details because negotiations are still underway, Edlund said that the district is really trying to provide more incentives for its teachers.
Edlund also wanted to address student assessments, a subject that came up during the forum held Oct. 4 featuring the two school board candidates. Her challenger had quoted statistics that reflected poorly on some local schools. Edlund has looked at the data, and still thinks the figures were misinterpreted, but regardless, she that said that state assessments are a “snapshot in time.” The snapshot that had been used was during a pandemic year and schools were not required to participate. Additionally, she said, the state test referenced is given in May and the results not reported until the following fall. Edlund prefers local assessments that allow staff to address issues within the same school year. “We can see where the improvements need to be made and then act,” she said.
While core curriculum is being addressed, Edlund said that the district has also been able to add enrichment teachers – providing art, drama and music for district students.
When asked what parents and teachers want to talk about when she’s visiting school sites or attending events, Edlund responded that it’s often the small things they mention that can be done that make a big difference – such as adding library hours.
However, there are larger projects that she would like to see undertaken in the future including adding air conditioning to all schools that currently don’t have it and renovating the bathrooms at Chester High School. She addressed each of the campuses and said that it was important to provide a good physical environment for the students.
Edlund is looking forward to continuing her work on the school board. “My passion is education,” she said.
Ballots have been sent and can be returned by mail or in person to the county courthouse by Nov. 8.