Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010 | 2 a.m.
Terri Janison, head of the Clark County School Board, sat beside Dwight Jones when she introduced the new school superintendent at his first news conference last month.
Next year, she may be sitting opposite him, advising the new governor, Brian Sandoval, on where to cut the School District’s budget.
Janison was named by Sandoval recently as his director of community relations and head of his Las Vegas office.
The district is moving into a turbulent budget cycle, with hundreds of millions of dollars in state cuts possible. Nearly three-fourths of the state’s 436,000 students are in Clark County.
Janison has been on the seven-member School Board since 2005 and has been its president for nearly two years. She influences how a $2 billion budget is spent.
She begins her new job next year, after the School Board appoints a replacement.
During her tenure, board meetings sometimes have been donnybrooks, with sighs, groans, catcalls and fists in the air from the audience.
As a top aide to Sandoval, Janison, 49, will be part substitute teacher and part advance woman. Her job, she said, will be to represent the governor when he is not in town and prepare the way for him when he is.
In education, a field larded with acronyms and statistics, Janison rarely, if ever, falls into abstruse education-speak. She is camera-ready.
“You want me to tell you a little secret?” she said. “I used to do some modeling and I also did corporate videos, so a lot of that training was for public speaking.”
Janison was born in Evansville, Ind., the middle daughter of a commercial photographer and a nurse.
At Western Kentucky University, she majored in advertising and minored in business.
After college, she held various jobs in advertising and with nonprofit groups. One of her favorites was as executive director of the Caring Program for Children in Jackson, Miss. Under the program organized by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Janison traveled statewide raising money for children too poor for health insurance.
But mostly she was a stay-at-home mom who accompanied her husband, Kevin Janison, a television weatherman, to various cities. In 1994, they moved to Las Vegas. They have a son, 14, and a daughter, 17, who attend public schools.
Janison started volunteering with parents groups in 2003 to protest proposed budget cuts in Clark County. She was appointed to a vacant position on the school board in October 2005 and ran for a full term later.
What would you tell people about the school board?
I think it’s a position that people don’t fully understand. I learned quite a bit more about public education than I ever thought I would.
I hope that whoever runs for this seat, that they understand the commitment they need to make to, of course, the children but also to the employees of the School District as well.
Looking back, were there any lessons you learned?
Number one, grow a thick skin. Number two, make decisions like you’re not planning on running again.
If you’re always worried about the next election, then you’re not doing the best job for the children in the district.
So it’s like Christians versus the lions in the Roman Coliseum?
I’m not going to comment!
What will you do in your new job?
In a nutshell, I’m going to run an office with four employees (in the Grant Sawyer building at 555 Washington Ave.).
When the governor is not down here, then I will be reaching out to community organizations and listening to what people think and feeding that back to the governor.
Are you a Democrat or a Republican?
I’ve been a registered Republican all my life, but I haven’t worked in campaigns, except in my own campaign.
The school board position is a nonpartisan position. That’s a good thing when it comes to education.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new job?
Oh, my goodness. I’ve never done this job before, so it’s all new to me. I need to ensure that I do what Gov. Sandoval needs me to do.
But honestly I’d like to think that I can do what I do on the school board and that is engage more people in decisions that affect their lives.