Effective school board service requires sound judgment and proven leadership. Dana Blakely and Beth Morrissette demonstrate those capabilities and deserve reelection to the Westside school board on the May 12 ballot.
Blakely and Morrissette are ending their first six-year terms and are the longest-serving members on the current board. Returning these two capable leaders would help provide stability and preserve institutional memory on the board at a time when Westside, a system with more than 6,000 students, will need continuity and innovation as it faces the challenges from the coronavirus emergency.
The May 12 ballot serves as the general election for the Westside board.
Blakely brings a valuable perspective to the board: She is a high school teacher with more than two decades of experience with the Millard school district. She is the only teacher among the incumbents and challengers in this year’s Westside election. Blakely’s background enables her, with a master’s degree in education, to help the board understand the real-world ramifications for teachers from board policies and actions. The challenges and opportunities for Westside teachers and students in switching to remote learning during the pandemic are the same ones she has dealt with herself in her own teaching.
Blakely has been a strong participant in the board’s deliberations for the district budget, which totals $75.4 million for fiscal 2020. Westside has one high school, one middle school, a secondary Career Center and 10 neighborhood elementary schools.
As board president last year, Blakely headed the search that resulted in the hiring of Mike Lucas as Westside’s new superintendent. She promotes the effective communication and efficiency that make for productive working relations between the school board and the superintendent.
Morrissette is a small-business owner with extensive experience working with the Omaha area’s nonprofit community. On the board, she draws on her business experience in analyzing policy choices and budgeting.
She has been directly involved in a series of improvements the board has taken to strengthen fiscal planning, monitoring and decision-making, including the formation of a finance committee and audit committee.
Morrissette has pushed the board to ensure strong student achievement despite the complications from the virus situation. She is right when she says the district must aim to “keep kids on the same trajectory.”
Morrissette emphasizes the importance of addressing students’ behavioral health needs and retaining quality teachers. She has been an energetic consensus-builder on the board for collaborative strategies on such needs.
Westside voters can maintain their district’s strong performance by reelecting these two qualified board members: Dana Blakely and Beth Morrissette.