The St. Helena school board has chosen Lisa Pelosi, a parent who’s spent 12 years volunteering at all four schools, to fill a vacant seat on the board.
Trustees voted 4-0 on Jan. 11 to appoint Pelosi, who was one of three applicants for the seat previously held by Alex Shantz, who resigned in November. Pelosi was sworn in at the district’s regular meeting last Thursday.
Unless voters collect enough signatures to force a special election, Pelosi will serve the remainder of Shantz’ term, which expires in 2018.
The board interviewed all three applicants: Pelosi, Alexandra Boeving Allen and Jeanmarie Wolf. Trustees highly praised all three candidates and encouraged them to stay involved in the schools whether they were appointed or not.
“This is a really hard vote,” said Trustee Jeannie Kerr.
Trustee Maria Haug initially said she would prefer Allen, but she went along with the other three trustees after they indicated their support for Pelosi. The final vote was unanimous.
In choosing Pelosi, trustees cited her experience with the district and her warmth, enthusiasm and approachability.
Trustee Jeff Conwell said he liked Pelosi’s statement about doing what’s best for all students.
“You have to make the best decision for all,” he said. “It might not be the best decision for your own child or for a friend of yours’ child.”
Pelosi has served on the Measure B and C bond oversight committee, the parent groups at RLS Middle School and St. Helena High School, and the district’s budget committee. She has volunteered for the Give Big! Fundraising campaign, the St. Helena Public Schools Foundation and St. Helena High School Drama.
“I believe that my varied experience has allowed me to view and understand public education from different perspectives, coupled with above-average knowledge,” she told the board. “I have worked for years to support our students and schools, with the intention of keeping our school community strong.”
Pelosi said her interests as a boardmember will include technology in the classroom, consistent communication between parents and the district, and community engagement in the schools, especially among Latinos. She said one of the district’s strengths is that students like their schools.
Tony Rabin, who serves on the high school parent group, said Pelosi is a “go-to person” parents rely on for accurate information about what’s happening in the schools. She’s also set up meetings between parents and administrators to discuss academic issues, he said. He praised the leadership abilities she’s shown as co-president of the high school parent group.
“She really gets people motivated and enthusiastic about doing things,” he said.
Erin Przybylinski, another parent, praised Pelosi’s “energy, commitment and authentic collaborative spirit to get the job done.”