Martha Fluor and Karen Yelsey were respectively elected president and vice president of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s Board of Education on Tuesday.
Fluor said her responsibilities as board president include running smoothly and encouraging individuals to come to the board and speak their mind on concerning issues. She will also continue to follow her biggest area of concern, the social-emotional needs of students.
“[The board is] making sure that we are not only providing a solid, high-quality public education in terms of academics but also addressing some of the underlying social issues that are impacting in this generation,” Fluor said.
The board’s reorganization comes at an exciting and tense time for the school district. On one hand, the district is refining plans for a $32-million theater complex at Estancia High School. On the other, district labor negotiators have yet to strike a deal with the Newport Mesa Federation of Teachers regarding health and welfare benefits, even though the school board approved a contract for the classified employees union week ago.
“NMFT would like to congratulate Mrs. Fluor, Mrs. Yelsey and Mrs. Black for their election as leaders of the Board of Education,” union president Britt Dowdy said Tuesday. “We are happy to establish regular lines of communication to address our employees’ workplace and how we serve our students. We thank each of you for your many years of service to our community.”
Tuesday also marked the end of Charlene Metoyer’s tenure as board president. Teachers and parents criticized the school board for Metoyer’s decision to move public comment on non-agenda items from the meeting’s beginning to the end. Numerous public comments that pushed meetings to end late at night prompted the change, Metoyer said. The Board reverted to the original format last month.
Board members are frustrated by community members who consistently speak during non-agenda public comment on matters the board can’t discuss outside of closed session or don’t stay to hear district leaders’ rebuttal, Fluor said.
“We have individuals coming to speak on issues that one, aren’t within the purview of the board, or two, are issues that have already been decided,” Fluor said.
Fluor was elected by Newport Beach voters in Trustee Area 3, which hosts Back Bay/Monte Vista High School, Corona del Mar Middle and High schools, and Eastbluff Elementary School. Yelsey was elected by Newport Beach voters in Trustee Area 4, which hosts Andersen Elementary, Harbor View Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, and Newport Coast Elementary.
The Board of Education also elected Dana Black as its new clerk. Black represents Trustee Area 6, which hosts Harper PreSchool, Kaiser Elementary, Mariners Elementary, Newport Heights Elementary, and Woodland Elementary.
Fluor, Black, and board member Vicki Snell are up for reelection in November.