Following the resignation of a longtime trustee earlier this month, the Denair Unified School District board appointed a replacement to fill its vacant fifth seat Thursday night.
One of three candidates, Carmen Wilson was unanimously selected by board members Kathi Dunham-Filson, Regina Gomes, Ray Prock Jr. and Crystal Sousa to serve the remaining 15 months of John Plett’s term. Plett resigned Aug. 9 after eight years as a trustee.
Wilson is the mother of two DUSD students and has participated on school site committees in the past. She has also previously served on boards for the Stanislaus Youth Development Committee and the Turlock American Little League and taught Sunday school at Connection Point Church in Denair. Currently, Wilson works is a certified public accountant for the Center for Human Services in Modesto, where she serves as Director of Operations.
Wilson was inspired to apply for the board position after having watched her children attend school in the district, she said.
“This is my 11th year having a student in the district and I’ve always been impressed,” Wilson said. “I like the fact that the schools are small — the teachers know the kids and the parents and when you reach out to them to talk about your kid, they know who you’re talking about.”
Wilson has over 20 years of experience serving nonprofit, government and corporate clients during her public accounting career and it was this financial expertise that earned her the board’s vote.
Board President Gomes remarked that Wilson’s background was impressive, while Dunham-Filson pointed out that her career makes her a vital addition as a new trustee.
“The financial piece is something that fills a void and would make us a better board,” Dunham-Filson said.
Wilson believes her experience has prepared her for a role as DUSD trustee, she said, thanks to not only her work in finances, but the interactions her position at CHS has provided through its school-based work with students and their families.
“The last five years working with them has opened up my eyes to different spectrums of the population and the different needs that people have,” Wilson said. “It’s made me aware of what all is out there as far as differences, diversity and inclusion.”
DUSD has overcome financial woes in the past and Wilson hopes to help the district avoid any problems in the future, she added.
“I think sometimes financial struggles come when people read and don’t understand things — not to say the groups from the past didn’t — and the more clarity you have about the trends you’re seeing, the better decisions you can make in the present,” Wilson said. “I want to bring my ability to read and understand numbers so we can talk about what they mean.”
Wilson said she’s been encouraged in recent years by DUSD’s dedication to expanding and improving its secondary school activities, like the ag program and its athletics. She hopes to continue that momentum as a board member, she said, while working to ensure students remain in the district.
“As a parent myself, you’re forced with decisions of do you stay or do you go and to see some of my kids’ peers make the decision to go is sad,” Wilson said. “You lose quality kids when that happens and we want to keep them here and build up our district instead of losing the good ones.”
Wilson will serve the remainder of the term, which ends in November 2020.
“When I commit to something I commit, and to commit to four years…you’re stuck whether you like it or not,” she said. “This was a great opportunity to get in there, do the hard work and if I love it like I think I will, then I’ll consider running again.”