After 27 years on the Owensboro Public School board, Nancy Eskridge has decided not to run for reelection.
Prior to her appointment, Eskridge often voiced her opinion about school board matters to a friend who was already on the board.
“[My friend] said to ‘put your money where your big fat mouth is,’” said Eskridge, who was appointed to the OPS board by the governor in 1991.
Having had two children graduate from Owensboro Public Schools, Eskridge wanted to give back to the system that served her family.
“Being a room mother wasn’t my strength,” Eskridge said. “The board seemed a better fit for me.”
Eskridge built a career as a contract designer, choosing office furnishings and designing interiors for businesses. But Eskridge said some of her accomplishments with the OPS school board are some of her greatest achievements.
A theme that stands out in Eskridge’s 27-year service is her commitment to the arts. Eskridge said the development of the innovative fine art center, where there is “every art for every kid” tops the list of her accomplishments.
Eskridge also says the addition of Seven Hills Preschool this year, marking the first all-day preschool for OPS, is another that tops her list.
“You can’t start too early,” Eskridge said. “Preschool makes a big difference in kindergarten.”
Eskridge says preschool is not funded in the same manner as kindergarten through 12th grade and requires money allocations approved by the board, something she, as a board member, was “proud to do.” Preschool in Owensboro Public Schools is partially funded by Audubon Area Community Services Head Start program.
Although she was a staunch advocate for preschool and Seven Hills, Eskridge voted no when the OPS and Audubon Area partnership contract was voted on by the board. Eskridge said she could not approve the contract because of the suggested assignments for healthcare workers between Hager Preschool, which received one health technician, and Seven Hills Preschool, which received one nurse and two health technicians, according to Eskridge.
Despite being the only no vote on the board, Eskridge stood by her decision and voiced her opinion of what she says was an unfair division of health professionals.
“Our one job is to be cognizant of the money taxpayers give us,” Eskridge said.
It is that passion for equity that Superintendent Nick Brake has appreciated about Eskridge.
“Nancy made sure that families that didn’t use their voice were provided the best education and had opportunities to do as well as any other kid,” Brake said.
Brake said Eskridge has been a steady voice for families in the Owensboro Public Schools district and was a primary advocate for both the arts and early childhood education.
“Nancy has a remarkable tenure of service,” Brake said. “I will always remember her being a passionate advocate for students.”