Maryvillian wants to reform school board
By Matthew Stewart | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A longtime Maryville City Schools supporter is running this year to reform the city’s school board.
Diane Pezick is competing in a tentative four-person race for two seats. Pezick, Sam Duck, Doug Jenkins and Candy Morgan have already returned petitions for the Nov. 6 general election.
Candidates have until noon Thursday to turn in their petitions.
“I believe the school board needs to change the way it does business,” Pezick said. “All decisions need to be student-centered, research-based, publicly deliberated and made by the school board. The board needs to be process-driven, be transparent and provide opportunities for the public and staff members to speak.”
The candidate has been concerned with the school board’s decision making during the past five years. She later cited several decisions, such as erecting lights at John Sevier Elementary School, closing Fort Craig School of Dynamic Learning and installing turf at Maryville High School.
“I’m very concerned by some recent trends,” Pezick said. “Students started raising money before John Sevier’s lights were even pre-engineered. The board closed an elementary school and produced overcrowding at the other three schools. The board never publicly discussed the turf, and Maryville High School’s HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) project went to City Council before the board discussed it.”
The Maryville Board of Education also hasn’t publicly discussed capital projects since a board retreat in April 2010, she said. “We don’t have a current capital projects list, because the board hasn’t done it.”
Listen to residents
Pezick has been attending Maryville Board of Education meetings for more than 10 years. She’s been actively involved for about eight years, attending almost every school board meeting, work session, budget retreat and joint meeting with Maryville City Council.
The candidate said she will work to change board policy and allow public comment on items not on the agenda. She later recalled a recent incident in which parents wanted to address the Maryville Board of Education about the music program.
“We need to have a mechanism that allows people to talk about whatever they want,” Pezick said. “City Council has it. Why not the school board, as well? If elected, I will be a responsive board member. I will listen to citizens. I will respond to emails and phone calls.”
She has scheduled four listening opportunities for Maryville residents:
• 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 28 at College Hill Park;
• 7:30-9:30 a.m. Sept. 12 at Vienna Coffee House, 321 High St.;
• 5:30-7 p.m. Sept. 20 at John Sevier Park Pavilion;
• 5:30-7 p.m. Sept. 25 at Pearson Springs Park Pavilion.
The candidate wants to enhance the school district’s strengths. “Maryville has a history of supporting education, and I want to be a part of that tradition. My proposed changes will only support education. If the community feels more confident in the process, they can feel more comfortable in the results. If you make decisions in a thoughtful, consistent and rational way, it will become Maryville City Schools’ foundation to grow toward excellence.”
If elected, Pezick said she will actively support the system’s employees. “We have excellent administrators, teachers and support staff in our system. I’ve spent time this summer speaking with all our principals, except one. I’ve found them to be forward-thinking people who care deeply about our children. They’re committed to their students and schools. I’ve also been extremely impressed with the staff’s professionalism. They were asked this summer to go well above and beyond what they should have ever been asked to do. They packed up their rooms but were still ready on the first day of classes. I’m very appreciative of their efforts, and I’m a little in awe of what they’ve been able to accomplish with grace and enthusiasm.”
Community members praise Pezick’s character and work ethic.
“During my time on the State Board of Education, I could always count on Diane being in the middle of the pea patch and staying focused on what works in education,” said Dick Ray, former State Board of Education member and former ALCOA Tennessee Operations manager. “I always found her to be very insightful about those things that make education tick. She truly impressed me. She has in-depth knowledge about what makes a good school system even more special.
“When Diane said she was going to run for Maryville school board, I thought it’d be a great benefit for that system,” he said. “Diane is not only an activist. She’s considerate and thoughtful. She doesn’t make an opinion without having the facts.”
Pezick has a great work ethic, as well, Ray said. “She was an excellent computer scientist when I was working for ALCOA. She was a real contributor every day because of her academic and intellectual abilities. She was one of the people that you literally couldn’t do without every day.”
“I think Diane is a visionary who will see to Maryville City Schools’ future,” said Caroline Best. “She has the right people skills to do a good job.”
“Maryville City Schools has a great heritage and great reputation,” said Susie Beard.
“However, we can always learn and do things better. Diane is someone who thinks outside the box. She won’t be happy with the status quo. She’s always asking: “Is there something better?” She always wants to improve things, and I’ve found her to be a hard worker when she takes things on. She’s someone who can jump right into the school board and start making an impact.”