Nirula, the ‘educational voice’
June 17, 2014
Julie Nirula has three children who have all attended school in the Park City School District: a 2012 graduate of Park City High School, a soon-to-be senior at the high school and an upcoming third-grader at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School. Having been a teacher herself, she said she has seen how the district could be made even better for her children and has decided to run for a seat on the Park City Board of Education to do so.
District 5 incumbent and current school board Vice President Michael Boyle decided not to run for re-election, so Nirula is campaigning against three opponents in the primary election on June 24 to determine which two will go on to campaign on the November General Election ballot. She is competing against Julie Eihausen, Doug Payne and Edwin Lowsma to represent the precincts of Lower Silvercreek, Upper Silvercreek, Lower Pinebrook, Pinebrook North, Summit Park East, Summit Park West, Upper Pinebrook and Wagon Wheel.
Nirula received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California Santa Barbara and her teaching credentials from California State University Hayward. She taught in Napa, California for four years, worked as a kindergarten aide in Santa Barbara for a year and spent another year in Wisconsin as a reading enrichment specialist.
"I knew I wanted to become a teacher during high school and college after volunteering in classrooms and seeing the lack of joy and excitement and wanted to change that," she said. "And I decided to run for the school board, because I have always had an interest in education, have always wanted to make things better for the students, and I saw the opportunity to do so in our district."
She has been a classroom volunteer and a member of the Parent Teacher Organization at Jeremy Ranch, where she also serves on the School Community Council. While Nirula enjoys being on the council, she said she prefers working in classrooms with students and misses being a teacher.
Her background in education would be helpful on the school board, she said, because school employees are not allowed to serve on the board. Because of that, she believes the educational voice can sometimes get lost in the decision-making process.
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When it comes to issues like professional development, Nirula said a voice and perspective like hers can help represent the teachers who have concerns.
"I know teachers in town have wanted more independent professional development instead of just one general conference or workshop that everyone has to go to, because there are areas where some teachers need help and others don’t and vice versa," she said. "We need to meet those needs as much as possible, whether by choosing different conferences for them to go to or maybe three different types of professional developments they can choose from to attend."
The budget is also an area of concern. Nirula said she doesn’t believe it is being distributed effectively and that the district relies too much on fundraising to make up for mismanaged dollars.
"There are now a lot of innovative ways to increase school funding through fundraising, but we still need to be fiscally vigilant and not just do what has always been done or what is easiest," she said.
Although Nirula admits she may seem soft-spoken, she said she will do whatever is necessary to improve the district for not only her children but also the children of so many others in the community.
"I’m not a politician, I’m not very good at selling myself, but I do have the kids’ best interest at heart and at the basis for all the decisions I will make," she said. "My main interest is doing what is right for the kids and what is going to benefit our kids most in the district."
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