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PROFILES IN COLOR

The Clark County School Board is a clash of red and blue, but the colors are not electoral map code for Republican and Democrat.

The colors refer to how members of the board think and arrive at decisions, according to a behavioral profile called "Emergenetics."

Emergenetics classifies four different thinking patterns by the colors of blue, red, green and yellow.

All School Board members follow the four patterns to some extent, but members Carolyn Edwards and Chris Garvey are weighted more toward blue, which represents "clear, logical or rational thinking."

Terri Janison, Larry Mason, Deanna Wright and Linda Young are more "red" in their thinking. Red brains are described as "intuitive" and "social," as in wanting to reach a consensus and learning from others.

The seventh School Board member, Sheila Moulton, has a Green Bay Packer brain since her dominant colors — yellow and green — are the same as the football franchise.

Moulton is both yellow, for imaginative, and green, which is practical. It’s a potent combination, said consultant Dale Erquiaga of Get Consensus.

"I would say this is Leonardo da Vinci’s brain," Erquiaga said at a recent board retreat.

Erquiaga conducted the workshop to help the board, with its three new members, understand each other better. Emergenetics is used as a team-building exercise by many private and public sector groups, said Erquiaga, who is certified by Denver-based Emergenetics to do its profiles.

He said the profiling system was developed by a neurosurgeon.

‘"I like this because it’s backed by science," Erquiaga said in an interview. "It’s not like a questionnaire given in the back of Cosmopolitan magazine."

At the School Board retreat, Erquiaga also gave members some blunt criticism. He noted how board members drag out meetings unnecessarily with their constant praise for each other.

"You don’t need to talk it out so much," said Erquiaga, who observed a five-hour School Board meeting on zoning changes. "Your liking each other for an hour is frustrating to watch."

John McCord, a professor of government at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, also spoke at the retreat. He was impressed with Erquiaga’s presentation, even if it was offbeat.

"If I had been walking through the front door about half way through the discussion and … someone had referred to Dr. Young as all green, I would expect her to become Kermit the Frog," McCord said at the March 13 retreat at Culley Elementary School.

"Referring to Terri Janison as having a concrete brain — I think I would have had a different impression," McCord added.

School Board members appreciate their differences. Edwards, for instance, appreciated Janison’s social skills.

"She can deal with the public," Edwards said. "I get exasperated, to be honest."

Erquiaga billed the school district $59 for each of the seven School Board members’ profiles.

Aside from the profiles, he also helped the school district write a new strategic plan, which describes the mission, goals and action plan of the school district. It was developed in consultation with staff and the board. Every division and school is supposed to create a separate plan to supplement the overall strategic plan.

Erquiaga’s one-year contract with the School Board was worth $84,000. It expired this month and won’t be renewed, he said.

Because he lives in Phoenix, he billed the school district for hotel and travel expenses, which added up to $2,641.39.

In appreciation of the budget crisis, Erquiaga voluntarily stopped his monthly billing for hotel expenses in August. In December, he ended his monthly billing for travel, which had included his airfares and rental cars.

When his contract came before the board for approval in the summer, Joyce Haldeman, the assistant superintendent for community relations, justified Erquiaga as a consultant who has familiarity with the district but could also be objective in his advice.

He is a former deputy secretary of state of Nevada and former employee of R&R Partners, a consulting firm in Las Vegas.

Janison, the School Board president, thought his presentation on brain profiles was useful.

"We’re the fifth largest school district (in the nation)," she said. "We have to know how to work with each other."

Contact reporter James Haug at jhaug@reviewjournal.com or 702-374-7917.

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