The Washoe County School District (WCSD) Board of Trustees voted 4-2 on Monday to appoint Beth Smith to fill the vacant District D board seat.
Smith’s seat was formerly held by first-term board member Kurt Thigpen, who resigned for undisclosed medical reasons. The board appointed Joe Rodriguez on July 13 to fill the empty District C seat left vacant by the resignation of former board Vice President Andrew Caudill. The two announced their resignations in late May.
Beth Smith worked in marketing for International Game Technology for many years. She now serves as the company’s diversity and inclusion global program manager for North America.
Smith served on the district’s zoning advisory committee from its initial formation in 2017 following the passage of the WC-1 ballot question, which raised taxes in the county to fund capital improvement projects in the district. In her written statements, Smith told trustees she was interested in the position because she is “deeply connected to and passionate about the District’s mission of creating an education system where all students achieve academic success.”
She was one of five final candidates for the District D seat.
Some public commenters who spoke in opposition to Smith’s appointment cited her role as IGT’s diversity and inclusion manager, saying they thought it revealed her political leanings.
Smith, however, repeatedly said during her interview that she believed in the importance of working with all community stakeholders, regardless of their political perspectives. She said she would do the same with all the members of the board.
Tuesday will be the first regular board meeting for the new trustees. The board is set to discuss ESSER III funding from the federal government, compensation for guest teachers and COVID mitigation protocols. This Is Reno will report on the meeting.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.