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Trustee Pullman seeks career jump to state board
by Jessica Garcia
Aug 04, 2008 | 874 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jonnie Pullman knows what it takes to set priorities in local government. Now she wants to make a difference across the state of Nevada.

After 25 years of city service and 12 years on the Washoe County School District’s Board of Trustees, Pullman has chosen to run for the Nevada State Board of Education District 8 and hopes to bring a “different” kind of knowledge to the table.

“The State Board of Education has been flying under the radar for a while and what they do really impacts the local school district,” Pullman said. “I would like to take the experience I’ve gained the last 12 years on the Washoe County Board of Trustees on to the state level because I understand the things they do that directly impact us and we need to change some of those things.”

The board is responsible for implementing policies set forth by the Nevada Legislature, but according to Pullman, the two entities have “clashed” in the past.

“(The state board members) haven’t been doing their job the last few years,” she said. “They don’t know how to talk to teach other. We need to change some of those things. I do have some ideas for state initiatives. ...I don’t just say I value education; I’ve actually put in 12 years of hard work into it, so I’d like to take it to the next level.”

The state board sets the policy for Nevada’s school districts and partners with stakeholders to ensure students are receiving the education they need for job readiness and to be contributing citizens of society. The board is comprised of 10 members and a non-voting student representative. Washoe County, or District 8, has only one representative.

State board members are elected on a non-partisan ballot for four-year terms and are limited to three consecutive terms.

Pullman’s service with the school board began in 1997 and was president and vice president during her tenure. She has more than 25 years of experience in local government as former deputy city manager for the city of Sparks and budget manager for the city of Reno.

Pullman has a master’s degree in public administration and experience in working with local businesses to find constructive solutions to help students build skill sets for careers and community participation. She said if elected, she would help implement a Partnership for 21st Century Skills program in Nevada, a collaborative effort between businesses and school districts that teaches young people how to be competent and literate in problem-solving, civics and global awareness.

“(It would) identify those specific skills that kids need to be successful in the 21st century, not the 20th century,” Pullman said. “Half the jobs that are going to be here in 20 years don’t exist today, so we have to have an educational system that only teaches students their basic skill sets, but how to think and how to learn because if they don’t do that, they’re not going to be successful.”

Pullman said it’s the act of setting priorities that has always interested her in working as a public official. Pullman was motivated to be more of a voice in the often grueling decision-making process when it comes to the needs of education. She said she could remember an incident in the past when she felt especially motivated to work as a trustee.

“At that time, the superintendent was telling the board in order to make their budget cuts, they had to decide between nurses and swim lessons and I thought, ‘Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark,’ and that I could help do something about it,” she said.

Pullman said she’s ready to work on the state level to help bring change and set good policies for educators and students.

“It’s something you think about as a policymaker when you’re working with your staff about what are the things we can do that don’t cost a lot of money that make a difference,” she said.
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