Tracy Casady said Monday that she’s “excited and ready” to take her seat on the Omaha school board.
Board members voted 7-1 to appoint Casady to the seat vacated by the election of Vinny Palermo to the Omaha City Council.
“I’m going to bring a positive attitude and a willingness to dive right in and get to work on critical issues,” Casady said.
The board interviewed Casady and three other applicants in public session Monday, quizzing them on their views on charter schools, the role of the board and other issues. The lone dissenting vote on Casady’s nomination was Amanda Ryan.
Casady is human resources manager at SL Jensen Construction, a small construction company.
She described herself as a proud graduate of Omaha South High School.
She is married and has three daughters, ages 11, 8 and 3. The older two attend OPS schools.
She is a member of the parent-teacher organization at Gomez Heritage Elementary in South Omaha.
Gomez Principal John Campin wrote a letter of support for Casady, saying she “will not only bring positivity to the school board but a wealth of knowledge and experience to collaborate with all board members.”
Board member Yolanda Williams said Casady’s communication background will be an asset.
According to Casady’s application, she has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/public relations from Creighton University and a master’s degree in communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Williams said the board is working on building its relationship with the community.
“It’s all about communications, how are we communicating with our community,” she said.
Board member Shavonna Holman said she liked that Casady recognized the board’s role in the oversight and evaluation of the superintendent.
“That is a major responsibility of what we do,” she said.
She also liked that Casady mentioned concern about rising class sizes as one the district’s major issues, particularly in District 9. The district includes downtown Omaha and South Omaha.
Other challenges noted by Casady were budget — “there’s just never enough funding” — and behavior problems. She said there’s a lack of funding for teachers to adequately address student misbehavior.
She said she was opposed to charter schools, vouchers and tax credit scholarships.
Asked about the district’s strengths, she noted its diversity, its varied programs and services, and its teachers, counselors and administrators.
Officials said she would most likely be sworn in officially at the July 10 meeting.
The term runs through Dec. 31, 2020.
Palermo was elected to the Omaha City Council in May and resigned from the OPS board this month.