To watch the YouTube of this meeting click here.
2.01 - 2.32 All 32 Consent Agenda Items (meaning no pubic comment or discussion):
PBS Approved to Come Into the Classroom
We got our first "makes you go hmmm" moment right off the bat when the only public
comment made regarding consent agenda items was by past WCSD Board President, Katy Simon Holland (2018-2019). She wanted to show her support for agenda item 2.20, which takes ESSER (covid) money from the District and gives it to PBS to bring in trained facilitators to increase literacy. It is noteworthy that Ms. Simon Holland just became a PBS Reno Board of Trustees Member in January 2021. Hmmmmm.
3.01 Presentation and Discussion of the District’s Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Tentative Budget for All District Funds; Specific Budget Issues, Items, or Other Changes -
To be honest they just seem to move all the numbers around to get the budget to “balance”. However, balancing the budget is not the problem we need to address, it is allocation. Essential items that make schools function are not being funded, like transportation and teachers. They have decided to deal with these ongoing critical issues with a presentation and request for direction from the Board during the April 12th Board Meeting.
General Fund Update
Ongoing Revenue Sources and Ongoing Revenue Uses.
Asked and received from the Departments their most critical needs and saving areas to figure into the budget. No changes to revenue estimates. Expect flat enrollment. The spending per pupil is set at $7,318.
After the April 12th Board Meeting regarding critical issues they will do the analysis and give a total package and recommendation during the April 26th Board Work Session. At this time they will take recommendations on using other funds. They also have a May 24th Work Session, with the Final Budget not due until June 8th.
For the Tentative Budget, the preliminary surplus of $451,378 has been allocated to the General Fund Contingency Account. So they can still move money around after the June 8th Budget due date. The charts presented show the Tentative Budget as balanced.
The Community can join the budget talks...it will be announced, but on either April 14th, 15th and/or the 18th, the Board has two virtual discussions on the budget; one for staff and one for the community. Michelle Anderson Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer will let the community know the exact dates around Friday April 1st. They want to get past the State of Education Address at Lois Elementary this Thursday March 31st at 5:30. To watch a livestream of the event on Thursday at 6:15 p.m., visit https://youtu.be/xiKSKXg0-dI.
Special Revenue Fund
Special Revenue Funds account for the District’s resources and expenditures for all grants, adult education, weighted funding, other special revenue funds, and E-Rate proceeds.
Special Education and Weighted Funding, like Gifted and Talented, English Learners and At Risk Learners resources are based on the State’s budget allocation for these programs.
Internal Service Funds
The District’s Internal Service Funds account for services provided b/w funds on a cost reimbursement basis.
The Property and Casualty Fund assumes a 20% insurance premium increase.
Health Insurance and Worker’s Compensation funds are not expected to have a rate increase.
Capital Projects Funds
The Capital Projects Funds account for the District’s resources and expenditures for capital projects. They are in alignment with the Capital Improvement Plan.
Debt Service Funds
The District’s Debt Service Funds account for payments of principal and interest on all long-term and medium-term debt.
The Tentative Budget includes a transfer to the Property Tax Capital Projects fund of $4.6 million, to fund the District’s computer refresh program. (We ask, is this in addition to the $2 million going to the purchase of District Devices and Docking Stations from CDW-G for teacher computers contained in this agenda item 2.21? What is the total amount being spent on technology and is it proving to be a successful expenditure or would some money be better spent getting buses and well educated teachers?)
The Enterprise Funds accounts for Nutrition Services, which should be entirely self-supportive by user chargers. (So where does this money come from? Who are the supporters?)
The projected cash position, money on hand, of the fund is $11.1 million.
It is interesting to note that the State, through the Committee on Local Government Finance, can review any local agency's finances if their ending fund balance falls below 4%. We wonder if there are other ways to bring about a State audit in WCSD?
Items for Presentation, Discussion, Information and/or Action
4.01 - Update on the Bryan Group’s Search for Superintendent Candidates -
Motion Unanimously Approved that the five candidates will move forward in the process. The candidates names will be announced by press release on Friday April 1st.
Bryan Group says they have five candidates who are very qualified.
There will be a document outlining the process that got the Bryan Group to this point, accompanied by a video as well as guidelines on how to review their criteria. They will be sharing the refined material selection criteria on how they sorted out the candidates. Now the Board and the Community will decide if the candidates are the right fit for their District.
There will also be a thumbnail sketch of each candidate, each candidate's pitch why they think they are the best candidate, each resume, cover letter, and 3 philosophy statements.
There has Been a Change:
Bryan Group is substituting the Story Telling by Candidates for Something Else (Wasn’t that their big hook to hire them? Answer, yes it was!) to a live streamed interview which will contain a short storytelling. The candidates upon reflection insisted the long storytelling aspect of the interview be dropped or they would withdraw their application, because they were concerned if the public can identify people in the candidate’s story it would be a privacy violation. April 8th is the tentative date planned for the short livestreamed interview/story with the candidates.
Trustee Nicolette - felt it is a red flag when candidates don’t want to reveal their long story b/c the candidate probably wishes they had not said something. The guided storytelling sold Trustee Nicolette. Why are we abandoning this b/c they now feel uncomfortable. Bryan Group said they are trying to give confidentiality to the people they told stories about. Trustee Nicoletter responds well, the candidate crossed a line and now we are redoing the interview process. The Bryan Group responded because of the Open Meeting Law (OML) the public sees, not just the Board. The candidates were supposedly fine with the Board seeing the story. And the Bryan group reminded us that the SAG used the long interview to get to the final candidate list, so not useless.
Trustee Mayberry - aligns with Nicolette
Trustee Church and Minetto- agrees with candidates being uncomfortable. No red flag to them.
Clerk Nicolette - did the candidates know about the OML before telling the long story? Bryan Group said yes. (GREAT POINT Trustee Nicolette.)
Meet and Greet Activities:
Bryan Group is proposing the 5 candidates can be in town from April 18th -20th. A reminder is given that the candidates can only meet with 3 board members to avoid triggering OML. So they will spread meetings across the weekend.
The activities will include the above, board members, in groups of 3, meeting each candidate, District tour, meeting focus groups who can submit questions ahead of time and each of the candidates will answer via livestream The agenda will be provided on when it will be livestreamed and when it won’t (When do we get this agenda - so probably not live streamed for tours, breakfast, dinner …) and a press conference with each one.
**It seems those who participated in a focus group may get a chance to ask the candidates some questions.
**A survey by the Bryan Group will remain open during the candidate choosing process. We have reached out to the Bryan Group and they advised the survey “will be available to the public from the 6th or 7th of April until the end of the candidate visits on April 20th. This survey will allow members of the community to provide input on the candidates once they have had a chance to actually see the candidates and their materials.” Just go to the WCSD website type Superintendent Search. That search should lead you to the page on which the link will be posted to access the survey.
Trustee Nicolette - Questioned the Board Counsel if we can’t meet with more than 3 Board members, how do we structure the serial discussion ? Counsel let her know it is okay as long as you don't’ deliberate. (All to avoid triggering OML).
Motions All Unanimously Approved:
The Board of Trustees advances all five finalists to the Zoom meeting, short interviews, the Meet and Greet process and then final consideration,
The Short Story interviews will occur on April 8th by a special meeting of the Board livestreamed on Zoom,
Identify the evening of April 18th and all day on April 19th and the 20th to conduct Meet and Greets with the candidates,
Identify April 26th as a Special Meeting to make a decision to hire the Superintendent, and
The Meet and Greet activities will be: Meals with no more than 3 Board Members, District Tour of school facilities and points of interest, Focus groups, Board interview - one per each candidate, and a press conference open to all news outlets. (So the press conference should be between April 20th and the 25th so questions can be asked.)
Katy Simon Holland brought two more "Hmmm" moments while thanking Superintendent McNeill, the Board, the Bryan Group and the SAG (superintendent advisory group), of which she is a member, for all their great work! "hmmm" (Remember the actual members of the SAG group are under wraps until after the Superintendent selection process is over). Ms. Simon Holland went on to say it was the most thorough search she has ever seen, and she knows because she has been a part of many Superintendent searches. "Hmmm". We always see the same people involved, which is understandable to a degree, but hopefully the remaining SAG members selected represent a diversity of thought.
4.02 Presentation and Consideration of Approval to Purchase High School Economics Instructional Materials in the Amount of $400,000.in ESSER III Funds.
Motion Passes 5-2 (Nicolette and Mayberry Voted No to Make the Point They Do Not Want a Semester of American Gov’t Replaced by Financial Literacy and Economics)
Presentation by Kendra Fox Director of Secondary Curriculum and Sarah Brown.
In 2017, Legislation SB249 changed graduation requirements, adding:
1.0 credit of Government with econ/fin lit standards embedded, and
0.05 credit Gov & 0.5 credit Economics & Financial Literacy to go into the graduating class of 2023.
The District is required to adopt materials that are on the State Approved Instructional Material List. They were only given one economics textbook, so they had no choice. Upon review, they thought it was a good textbook so they pushed it through so the teachers could get it sooner to better teach students this fall. They were concerned that a new process on how the District selects textbooks, being created by WestEd, by the end of April would delay the book selection. (I am not sure why the District is using a California nonprofit group to review their book selection process. We need to get back to actual local control over our schools.)
*You can still review the Savvas Economic Principles in Action (2022) textbook online, at a link provided on the WCSD website. https://www.washoeschools.net/Page/17609
The bottom line is this may have been a rush job or they were dragging their feet because many are against the NV Legislature’s mandate via SB249 - which removes a semester of American Government and replaces it with Economics and Financial Literacy. The Board is not happy with this legislative decision and neither were those who made a public comment. One public commenter suggested the Board ask the legislature for an exemption. The Superintendent recommended that Ms. Fox work with Lindsey Anderson, their government affairs person to make sure this is a good roll out and testify in front of the new legislature.
There are numerous new textbooks/materials coming up for adoption and a new process by which those books will be adopted created by a nonprofit corporation called WestEd. We need to do some research on this entity. For some reason they were given a lot of control over what our children will be learning
4.04 - Naming of the New SouthEast Reno Area Elementary School
Motion choosing JWood Raw Approved 6-1
Congratulations to the Raw family. So many great candidates! What a tough choice!
4.03 - WCSD Strategic Plan Bridge Year Reporting on Updated Metrics from the
2020-2021 School Year and to Ensure our Schools are Safe, Secure Supportive, and Welcoming
A presentation was given by Police Chief Trevino and Roy Anderson the Emergency Manager about Goal #5 - getting school safety up to standards on Local, State and
Federal Guidelines. It sounds like their work is exemplary. Their plans have been used as a template by many other areas. However, absolutely nothing was talked about regarding the bullying, fights and assaults going on in our schools that we have heard about from employees, parents, and the local news.
4.04 - General Public Comment
A parent/teacher summed up what BBME believes, that the state needs to fund schools appropriately.They had promised to decrease class size with some of the millions received in ESSER money, yet classes remain with over 30 students per class. Teachers will tell you the most success comes with smaller class size as there is; less disruption, less bad behavior. Smaller class sizes help teachers feel more like an educator than a babysitter, more individualized instruction helps w/SEL, and the small size creates more discussion. She proposes that 1st and 2nd grade have no more than 16 students, K and 3rd no more than 20, and 4th-12th should be capped at 24 students. Her faith in the District is running out.
Her comment was echoed by Ms. Fiannaca and Ms. Maher who put more evidence before the Board on how horribly this District spends its money. Superintendents cost the school $11 million. HR increased $13 million more in just 2 years. They increased by 11 positions despite a shortage of bus drivers and teachers.