LAS VEGAS -- Late last week, without much fanfare, Clark County School Board President Terri Janison attended her final meeting as a trustee. Beginning next month, Janison will serve as community relations director for Governor Brian Sandoval.
During her five years with the board, Janison helped to navigate the district through record school construction, unprecedented budget shortfalls and the selection of two superintendents. Her latest pick, Dwight Jones from Colorado, starts later this week.
The former PTA mom says she leaves as she began -- with unwavering dedication to the Las Vegas valley's children. It is a commitment she hopes may now influence education policy statewide.
Before her appointment to Clark County School Board in September of 2005, Janison's predecessor assured her the position required just a couple of meetings a month. They are famous last words, Janison recalls with a smile.
"I've always said if I don't feel like I can make any more difference and I'm stuck, it was time to move on. I felt like I was, as I am right now, still making some difference. But moving on with the governor-elect, I feel like I may have a little bit of a stronger voice for the children down here," she said.
Governor-elect Sandoval tapped Janison to head his southern Nevada office as director of community relations, a role Janison hopes will be an extension of her education advocacy.
Like many parents, the one-time stay-at-home mom first entered the classroom with her own kids, before assuming responsibility for the more than 300,000 students district-wide.
Among her accomplishments, Janison points to the district's empowerment schools, the navigation of unprecedented budget cuts, and the recent appointment of Superintendent Jones. Yet despite all that, Janison is not without her critics.
In September, at Janison's request, Clark County School Police arrested activist Andres Mendoza for disturbing the board meeting. The move made headlines, overshadowing the district's candidates for superintendent. Yet Janison has no regrets.
"There has to be a mutual respect as well and it's a business meeting. We're there representing the children. We're there representing the community. It's not a forum to turn into a circus, so that was one thing that I wouldn't allow to happen. Fortunately it didn't happen too often," she said.
As she prepares to extend her advocacy beyond Clark County, Janison insists the children remain her focus. As for her successor, Janison offers this advice: "It's not a couple of meetings a month for this job."
Janison begins her new position with the governor's office early next year. In the meantime, the school board is looking for a new member. Applications are being accepted through early January with interviews scheduled January 20, 2011.