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Barbara Nemko
Barbara Nemko has never left her post as county office superintendent since being appointed initially for the remainder of a colleague’s term in 1997. Register file photo

Initially appointed to fill the remainder of a colleague’s term in 1997, Barbara Nemko has never left her post as the Napa County Office of Education superintendent. 

As head of the agency, Nemko oversees local court and community schools and county-run child development, preschool and after school programs. She also heads up the county’s regional occupational program, which gives students career training before high school graduation. Finally, the county office supplies fiscal oversight for all Napa County school districts. 

Nemko — who is running unopposed in June — said she’s ready to take those duties on for another four-year term. 

“I love having the opportunity to improve the lives and futures of Napa County’s children,” she said. “That never gets old.”

Nemko has been running unopposed since 2002.

“I hope it’s because I’m seen as a tireless advocate for children and the community respects and supports what I am doing in this office,” she said. 

If re-elected, Nemko said her plans will include expanding parent workshops and preschool offerings while enriching career-focused coursework and opportunities at Napa County schools. 

Her focus will also be on “promoting the incredible job done by Napa County teachers and administrators despite shrinking budgets, higher expectations and changing demographics,” she said. 

Nemko added that she is developing a local council to expand long-term educational and employment goals for students of all ages.

“We are bringing together representatives from the schools, parents, the business community, service clubs, and family resource centers to analyze data, learn from best practices, and develop a plan for improvement,” she said. “We will seek financial resources through federal, state, and private grants and advocate for federal and state policies that promote our work.”

Nemko said she launched her career at age 19 as an elementary school teacher in New York City. 

After eaching junior high school later, she arrived in California and worked for the Berkeley Unified School District as a reading specialist and curriculum developer, she said. 

Nemko was also a career and technical education consultant to the California Department of Education for more than a decade. 

In 1991, she came to work for the county office as curriculum director before securing her post as superintendent six years later, to complete then-superintendent Ed Henderson’s term. 

Napa County voters elected Nemko for superintendent in 1998, and she ran unopposed in 2002, 2006, and now in 2010.

Nemko won recognition as the assembly district’s 2009 Woman of the Year and Regional Superintendent of the Year for the Association of California School Administrators. The county office netted five Golden Bell awards from the California School Boards Association on her watch. She was also legislative chair for the California County Superintendents Educational Service Association.

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