Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 2:31 pm | Light Rain 59º


Orcutt School District Trustee Liz Phillips Settles into New Role

Victorious in third election attempt, longtime advocate champions school safety and staff training

Perhaps the scales were tipped by the more assertive election campaign, the increase in the number of yard signs or the hearty support from teachers in the Orcutt Union School District.

However the aspects aligned for Liz Phillips to make her way on to the five-member Orcutt district Board of Trustees — unseating a long-time incumbent in November’s election — her persistence seems to finally have paid off.

“The third try was the charm,” the 24-year resident of Orcutt told Noozhawk recently, recounting her first school year in the new role.

“I wanted to have a voice in the district,” Phillips said. “I felt like I was coming to the table with a well-rounded understanding. What the teachers do, how the community supports the schools.”

Phillips said she has always been an advocate for the district, where she has spent many years as a school volunteer, PTA president, Title I teacher and substitute teacher at Lakeview and Orcutt Junior High schools.

Her two grown children — Katie and Matt — grew up in Orcutt schools and graduated from Righetti High School.

“They’re great products of it,” Phillips said. “We produce great students.”

Phillips, who has worked as a recruitment coordinator for Allan Hancock College since 2005, said last fall would have been the last time she ran for a seat on the Orcutt school board. She was up against Kathy Meissner, one of three trustees who had held their seats for nearly two decades.

Buoyed by an all-or-nothing mentality and a call for change, Phillips was again supported fervently by the Orcutt Educators Association and the California State Employees Association.

A year after taking over the post she worked so diligently to obtain, Phillips said she keeps busy reading board meeting packets and school and PTA newsletters, and attending events throughout the district.

She said she has tried to be a big backer of school safety and continued training for staff, aware and honored to have such responsibility and accountability to the public the board serves.

“I love it, I really do,” Phillips said. “It’s a lot of homework. (But) good things happen when people work together.”

Watching the second-ever graduation of Orcutt Academy High School students capped off Phillips’ first year of experience, although she said she’s looking forward to many more.

“I’m still learning,” she said. “It really is nice to feel like you’re making a difference in a student’s education. I really enjoy visiting the schools.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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