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Letter: NVUSD needs Robin Jankiewicz

  • Updated

I would like to share with our community why I am in support of Napa Valley Unified School District Trustee District 1 candidate for school board Robin Jankiewicz.

I have been a longtime public-school advocate in Napa as a teacher and coach, a parent, and active fundraiser for all our public schools. I have sat through several districtwide committee and board meetings over the years listening to parents, teachers, and community members voice their opinions, wants and needs. I have been that parent who took issue with decisions made by our district and chose to participate in committees to help bring about change that made more fiscally solvent sense.

For instance, I worked with the district to help encourage the leadership to move to a self-operating model for our food services so that we could not only be more responsible with our finances, but also offer more local, healthy food options. It took years, research and cooperative action to get to where we are today, with our food service being named one of the top programs in California. The end result was well worth the effort.

It was the NVUSD school board who listened to our plea, researched the evidence presented, and supported the model to change to self-operating, because it made financial sense. Financial knowledge is what is desperately needed for school board members. We need board members who are familiar with the students we serve, the variety of needs they have, and how we can responsibly fund our schools with the annual monies allocated by the State.

Schools are funded through daily average attendance, with most of that money going to salaries. Our declining enrollment has been forecast for years; it takes an even more savvy and experienced financial mind to help in leading our district through these challenging times.

Robin Jankiewicz is that person. Her experience on the board and background in finance is crucial to navigating NVUSD through the next several years.

Robin’s finance background, creative mind and due diligence has been proven. When Robin signed on to be a board member, we were at a 3% reserve and heading toward conservatorship, meaning the state was about to take over. Our current board has had to make some tough decisions, but those decisions kept us out of financial ruin and away from irresponsible spending of tax dollars.

We elect officials to be servants who are required to make fiscally solvent decisions and not jump at any idea that clearly doesn’t serve the needs of the entire district student body.

As a resident of Napa since 1986 and a District 1 resident who has seen four schools close in my area, I know firsthand how the valley population is changing.

Second home buyers, retired adults, and the high cost of housing for first time home buyers all contribute to who can live here. Fewer children live in rural Napa these days; this is why District 1 has had to close four schools over the last 15 years. We need a trustee who can make those tough decisions based on fiscally solvent evidence and that person is Robin Jankiewicz.

Robin is smart, conscientious and honest, and keeps our 16,000 students in mind with every decision she makes.

Katie Aaron

Napa

Everywhere, it seems, back-to-school has been shadowed by worries of a teacher shortage. The U.S. education secretary has called for investment to keep teachers from quitting. A teachers union leader has described it as a five-alarm emergency. News coverage has warned of a crisis in teaching. In reality, there is little evidence to suggest teacher turnover has increased nationwide or educators are leaving in droves. Certainly, many schools have struggled to find enough educators. But the challenges are related more to hiring, especially for non-teaching staff positions. Schools flush with federal pandemic relief money are creating new positions and struggling to fill them at a time of low unemployment and stiff competition for workers of all kinds. Since well before the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have had difficulty recruiting enough teachers in some regions, particularly in parts of the South. Fields like special education and bilingual education also have been critically short on teachers nationwide.

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