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Hot Agenda Items: 4/26/22 WCSD Regular Board Meeting

We want to help you better understand the upcoming issues the WCSD Board of Trustees will be discussing this week. Take a minute to review these agenda items so that you are prepared to submit a public comment or attend the meeting and make a public comment.

Consent Agenda Items:


2.05 Why Our District Allows Oversized Classrooms in K-3 Grades
(APPROVAL OF THE FISCAL YEAR 2021-22 3rd QUARTER REPORT OF AVERAGE DAILY ATTENDANCE AND PUPIL TEACHER RATIOS FOR GRADES K -3 FOR EACH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL)

NRS 388.700-388.725 mandates smaller class sizes via ratio of pupils per licensed teacher in grades K-3. The Class Size Reduction (CSR) Plan was approved by the Board on August 10, 2021. This agenda item concerns the Board’s quarterly submission of requests for variances from having to comply with these mandates. It seems the District just submits that the smaller classes are not feasible to fund and they are allowed to not comply with these lower student teacher ratios/ smaller class sizes. The District uses class size reduction funds to implement lower ratios in grades K-3. Although the District attempts to provide staff so it’s in compliance with the Nevada Revised Statutes 388.700-388.725. The Additional Background Information states “It is not financially feasible for the District to hire the necessary teachers to meet the 16 to 1 required ratio (2nd Grade). This would require 16 additional teacher allocations needed at a cost of $1.2 million, and therefore most of the schools have variance requests. It continues by stating, “Based on current funding levels, we do not have the financial capacity to meet the class size ratios set in current law”.The document contains similar information for K, 1, 2, and 3. The agenda materials collected for this agenda item go into how much it would cost to retain enough teachers to meet these smaller class sizes...see documents here.


This makes us wonder how the Board can choose to ignore legislated class size mandates due to lack of funding, something teachers have repeatedly ask for and seem to believe would help improve all aspects of education and school safety for the students, yet is going forward with what would seem to be a costly systematic overhaul of the entire District to build up a robust equity and diversity department infuse “equity and diversity” initiatives throughout the district.


2.13 APPROVAL OF THE 2022 RENEWAL OF THE COMMERCIAL LEASE AGREEMENT FOR EIGHT DISTRICT DEPARTMENTS BEGINNING JUNE 1, 2022, AND EXPIRING MAY 31, 2027, IN THE ESTIMATED AMOUNT OF $1,268,064.

Departments Included: Northstar, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), Equity & Diversity, Family & School Partnerships, Counseling & Truancy, Substance Abuse Prevention, Student Activities & Athletics, Wellness & Behavior Programs. This just brings up the question...can they shift department locations and save $1.2 million?


2.15. Approval of Anonymity of Single donors of $100k or more to WCSD

We have not had a chance to follow up on this, but it would be interesting to see how many anonymous donations the district has been given and how they are allocated?


2.16. Board Policy 5400 Student Attendance

This was updated to include the use of Multi-tiered System of Support for habitual truant and chronically absent students to help work towards academic and social and emotional growth. Absenteeism is such a significant problem in the WCSD it seems to need the attention of a discussion in the public forum setting of the Board. Hopefully this item is pulled from the consent agenda to learn more and allow discussion.


2.18. Board Policy 5600 - Addresses Students at Risk of Dropping Out

This policy addresses those High School students at risk of dropping out without obtaining their diploma. The Board is directing the Superintendent to adopt an Administrative Regulation for the administration to form a plan for such students that aligns with the Districts Strategic Plan.


2.19 Board Policy 6160 - Possible Action to Proposed Revision of the District’s Expectations for the Selection, Adoption, and Disposal of Instructional Materials.

This is the second step in the policy approval process. Upon direction by the Board Policy Committee, the policy will be placed on an agenda of a Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees for consideration of preliminary approval. Once approved, the policy will post to the District’s website for review by staff and the community. After a 13-day review period, the policy will be placed on a future agenda for final approval.


The Draft shortens the “Purpose” portion of the Policy considerably. Concerning is the removal of: “the input of parents/guardians is encouraged in the choice of new instructional materials”. In the “Policy” section, the first sentence has been removed: “The Board recognizes that students need access to many different types of instructional materials consistent with District policy and regulation”. The Draft has other minor language changes. The Superintendent’s Recommendation: The Board of Trustees provides preliminary approval to the proposed revision of BP 6160 and initiates the 13 day public review and comment period.


2.20 Board Policy 6200, The Board Wants to Change Our Previously Written Board Policy on Literacy.

Notable deletions: Purpose section: The Board of Trustees believes that literacy, the ability to read, write, speak, listen, and to be lifelong readers, is fundamental to the success of all students. Policy section deletions: Literacy comprises a complex set of knowledge and skills that must be developed throughout the years of schooling. Also worth noting is Policy section, 2.e: “Provide ongoing professional learning opportunities focused on the Nevada Academic Content Standards to include the Nevada Integrated Technology Standards, consistent with the District’s comprehensive professional development plan, which is geared to prepare all teachers for the diversity of literacy abilities in a classroom.” *This is worth noting due to the specific gap in teacher’s knowledge and capacity around dyslexia. Despite requests from teachers, there is currently no specific dyslexia professional learning opportunities available to regular education teachers that would build this knowledge/capacity.


The heading, “Desired Outcomes” has been completely removed. This includes the deletion of subsection 1 & 2. 1) All students graduate from high school with the ability to use reading, writing, listening, and speaking to be contributing members of society who are self directed learners, effective communicators, collaborative workers, critical and independent thinkers, and therefore appreciate the value of literacy. 2) Improve the academic achievement of all students in all demographic groups, at all grade levels, and at all current performance levels.


The Superintendent’s Recommendation: The Board of Trustees provides preliminary approval to the proposed revision of BP 6200, Literacy, and initiates the 13-day public review and comment period.


Could these changes to this board policy language be so that graduation standards are further "dumbed down" and it becomes easier to obtain a diploma? This would certainly help the district look better and it would be more "equitable". However, it would be at the cost of graduating unprepared, uneducated students. This does reflect last year's graduation rate of 82.5% with only an ELA proficiency rate of 46.8%


2.21 - Board Policy 6300, The Board Wants to Change Our Previously Written Board Policy on Mathematics.

This is the second step in the policy change approval process, then it will move to final approval. A LOT of the original language has been removed in the draft. The Purpose Section leaves only one sentence with two entire paragraphs removed. Notable is the removal of: “as well as engaging families and the communities” and “At minimum, each student shall be proficient in the mathematics outlined in the Nevada Academic Content Standards”. Also removed under the Policy Section: Washoe County School District promotes rigorous, high quality, effective, research based instruction in mathematics to ensure all pupils achieve academic success. 2.f does state, “The District shall offer support services and partnerships to include families as members of the educational community and in the educational decision-making process for students. Wondering why the initial Purpose Section removed the mention of engaging families and, instead places this one reference to families is buried further down in the document.


Just as in the above agenda item, 2.20, Literacy Draft, the 2.21, Mathematics draft also removes the entire “Desired Outcomes” section that included: “All students will graduate from high school ready to pursue college or a highly skilled career having taken four years of mathematics”. And “ Improve the academic achievement of all students in all demographic groups, at all grade levels, and at all current academic performance levels. This has all been deleted in the draft.


The Superintendent’s Recommendation: The Board of Trustees provides preliminary approval to the proposed revision of Board Policy 6300, Mathematics, and initiates the 13-day public review and comment period.


Again, we smell something fishy here. Could these changes to this board policy language be so that graduation standards are further "dumbed down" and it becomes easier to obtain a diploma? This does reflect last year's graduation rate of 82.5% with only a DISMAL Math proficiency rate of 22.6%


2.22 - Board Policy 6400, The Board Wants to Change Our Previously Written Board Policy on Assessment.

The balanced assessment system is vital for a school district to monitor and improve student outcomes. The policy addresses the need for summative, interim, and formative assessment data to prepare students for college and career readiness as well as 21st century skills. If the draft is passed, the policy will move forward for final approval.


Noted deletions: Purpose Section - removal of “The Board of Trustees, through its Core Beliefs, is committed to ensuring all students graduate career and college and career ready, through the consistent application of high quality effective instruction, balanced assessment and a rigorous accountability system”. Also deleted, under the Policy section: 1.a All pupils are assessed using multiple and varied evaluative tools that measure their academic growth and proficiency over time and that align with the academic rigor and high quality effective instruction they receive in the classroom”. Added under the Definitions heading: Culturally Responsive Practices connects students’ cultures, language, and life experiences with what they learn in school. These connections help students access rigorous curriculum and develop higher-level academic skills.


Just as in the above agenda item, 2.20, Literacy Draft and the 2.21, Mathematics Draft, Board Policy 6400, Assessment, also removes the entire “Desired Outcomes” section. Also removed: the entire Reviewing and Reporting section at the end of the Draft.


The Superintendent’s Recommendation: The Board of Trustees provides preliminary approval to the proposed revisions of BP 6400, assessments and initiates the 13-day public review and comment period.


These proposed Board Policy wording changes on the core parts of education in WCSD is terrifying. With these changes, we fear WCSD will be held to an even lesser standard of education. The basic tenets of academic policy will become even more flimsy.


Discussion & Vote Agenda Items:


3.02. Presentation and Update of the Supplemental Material Task Force.

The last Task Force update was 11/23/21 the accomplishment then were:

  • A presentation by the Equity and Diversity Department regarding Cultural Competency

  • A review of the current English Language Arts State Standards

Next steps were:

  • To read The Opportunity Myth: What students can show us about how school is letting them down and how to fix it

  • Discuss State Standards more

  • To Review The Benchmark Advanced Material adopted K-5 curriculum.

The new update for 4/26/22 confirms the above happened.


The next steps are to review (again) the adopted K-5 English Language Arts (ELA) Material to make a recommendation on whether ELA Supplemental material is necessary. This is huge as we know the last time the Board looked to approve the Benchmark Advance Supplemental Curriculum, which was loaded with language around implicit bias, equity and framing everything through a lens of racism.


3.03. Presentation and Discussion of the Importance of Early Childhood Education Opportunities.
  • There are currently 1300 students enrolled

  • These Pre-K programs provide children with essential readiness skills to help support the transition to kindergarten.

  • The discussion will include: funding, classroom space and qualified teachers


IMPORTANT


4:00 pm Special Board Meeting To Discuss and Possibly Select a New Superintendent of Schools from the Five Candidates