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KSBA News Article

Beyond the Board

Beyond the Board

Joshua Perkins, Campbell County Schools

Kentucky School Advocate
June 2022

Q. You were appointed to the Campbell County board just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic. What was it like to join the board at a time when everything about education was disrupted?    

A. 
I joined the board about a month before the pandemic. We went to the KSBA conference a week and a half later, and I got a crash course in the required topics. I had watched board meetings so I had a little background. I also spent a lot of time on the phone with the board chairwoman, a longtime board member. All the board members have been invaluable resources.  

Q. What has been the biggest challenge brought on by the pandemic?

A. 
Trying to explain why we felt we had to implement masking and social distancing. While I didn’t want to be director of public health, at the same time we are responsible for providing a safe learning and working environment. There were people who felt strongly the whole pandemic was a bunch of nonsense and you can’t ignore them; you have to have a conversation with them. They came to our meetings and spoke their minds, which is their right and there were some nasty emails and personal statements. It was a stronger reaction than I expected. People are passionately advocating for their kids and you like to see them involved, but you would like to have them listen sometimes.

Q. You applied to the board before the pandemic hit. Was part of your interest fueled by being a product of the Campbell County school system?

A.
That was a big part of it. I, my wife, a lot of family and friends, we are all products of the system and it prepared us pretty well for the next step.

Q. With three kids in school in the district, you probably spend a fair amount of time at schools?

A.
When I became a board member, I had planned to go to schools and meet and talk to people but then the pandemic hit. Now, I spend the most time at the high school because my oldest is in marching band, which is very time-intensive.

Q. You and your fellow board members recently hired a new superintendent. What did you learn during the process?A. We hired KSBA to help with the process and Don Martin did a fantastic job guiding us. He made it clear that the law is trying to make sure that we do our due diligence in checking out candidates and getting a wide swath of candidates. I’ve also learned more about the things you can and can’t do outside of a public meeting. Like three of us can’t talk after a meeting or on the phone because we don’t want to inadvertently break the open meetings rule by having a quorum. That sort of thing is not something I had really thought about. You have to be careful; I don’t want to break the law.

Q. What are some challenges your district faces?

A. 
Our district is pretty highly ranked but I don’t feel parents are really aware of that. I think our new superintendent will get that word out. She will be able to push us forward a little further. Also, in the past year or so, we have lost a lot of students to home schooling. We strongly believe students will have a better outcome in a school setting.

Getting to know
Profession: 
Eleven years as a controls engineer; recently moved to sales and distribution for a company that supplies industrial controls equipment.    

Family: Wife, Sarah; children; Conner, 14, Isaac, 11, Meredith, 9  

Hometown: Born in Maine, moved to Campbell County at age 6

Favorite subject in school: History, math and music (played euphonium and trombone)        

Hobbies: Cooking (experimenting with my smoker); gardening, golfing with my wife, playing music with my oldest who plays trombone and cello. Most of my spare time is spent watching my children do their things – track, baseball, basketball and marching band.

Book recommendation: “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters” by Tom Nichols. He writes about how with access to so much information, people view themselves as instant experts on any topic and what this has done to our body politic and society. It is instructive for what board members and public officials have had to deal with these past few years. He doesn’t have any good solutions and says that it has to come from within; people have to recognize they are doing this. Increasingly they are not.  

Interesting fact: I’m a history buff and I have a good memory for things I read. No one likes playing trivia with me. My mother grumbles when we watch Jeopardy because I often say the answer before she has finished reading the question.

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