To watch the YouTube of this meeting click here.
Consent Agenda Items:
Each item will be posted on WCSD for input by the community.
13 of the 14 Consent Agenda items were quickly approved in order to move onto the public comment phase. (2.09 was pulled because the staff needed more time to prepare for the presentation.)
Items for Presentation, Discussion, information and/or Action:
3.01. All Board Members were approved for Non-WCSD Public Bodies.
Diane Nicolet - Washoe County Debt Management Commission
Jeff Church - Nevada Association of School Boards Board of Directors
Ellen Mineto - Nevada Association of School Boards Board of Directors
Beth Smith - Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Governing Board
3.02. WCSD five year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) 2023-2027.
The plan is an annual update of proposed major projects, school modernization, renovation and reconstruction. The plan included the scope, scheduling and financing of said future projects. These are just proposed plans and each project will be brought before the Board for individual approval when they are closer to action.
Interesting note, there are 40 schools in WCSD that are 50 years and older.
The major funding for all CIP comes from Property Taxes, which is projected to be $71 million and Sales Taxes at $62 million.
3.04. WCSD Strategic Plan Bridge year review of metrics for school year 2020-2021 for parts of Goals 1,3 & 5 were presented.
Goal 1.2.2: Specifically increase the English Learner exit rate by 6th grade.
The target was set for 67% but fell short to 57%. The reasons given for the shortfall was COVID related. It was difficult for Spanish speaking children to comprehend speech pronunciation due to the wearing of masks.
Dr. Nicolet asked what the strategies that were being used to aide against combating preconceived beliefs of these EL students. The response from Dr. Parks (Chief Academics Officer) was using culturally responsive practices given by the Equity and Diversity Training. Staff was to check cultural biases and assumptions of students of low socio-economic status, culture and ethnicity. We do not know what the culturally responsive practices are.
Additional tools used to help EL students are Site Facilitators and family engagement.
La Marca (Chief Strategies Officer) emphasizes the importance of the Equity and Diversity Training and Equity Framework lens essential in providing a more equitable access to curriculum.
Goal 3.2.1 Family Engagement and Family satisfaction rates.
Family climate surveys were on hold due to COVID. Lack of reliable data from family climate surveys in the past two years. First year it wasn’t done due to Covid. Second year, there was a low response rate. Home visits were also greatly impacted by COVID.
Goal 3.2.2 Parent University
Free workshops for families in WCSD to help build skills, knowledge and support systems to advocate for student success. Classes are being held online. Here is a link to the Parent University calendar of events.
Goal 5.1 Teacher Burnout:
Staff survey stress and dissatisfaction from the 2020-2021 school year increased from previous years from 42% to 73%. Burn out, anxiety and restlessness was attributed to the pandemic. Additionally, the lack of staffing, and specifically the shortage of substitute teachers and class size caused tremendous stress. There is a plan to include additional teacher support staffing by using ESSER money. Another tool to help educators was a therapist-facilitated staff peer group.
Church asked what happened to the upward trend of teachers’ surveys pre-Covid at 50%. Mr. Ernst (Chief Accountability Officer) mentions due to covid that teachers are asked to do more with the same amount and dare say maybe a little less and that comes from administrative responsibilities based on new laws and policies.
Taylor asked the question, “How do we help teachers?” and stated that “whatever we can do to help teachers feel supported and sometimes it’s a feeling of support”. Mr. Ernst mentions there are a number of layers and in looking at staffing availability by using ESSER funds to fill in those gaps and fill in with external support. (No real substance or solutions to the existing problems in his response) (time stamp 2:36:32)
Ultimately, the discussion on smaller class sizes needs to be at the top of the list. The biggest concern for our teachers. Minetto shares her “lived experience” of teaching for 31 years and how much more stressful it became each year. The class size had a lot to do with it and the students who were disruptive and detracting from the others who were there to learn. WCSD MUST decrease class sizes.
Goal 5.1.2. Decrease Chronic Absenteeism
The District goal was set at 14% but fell short at 39%. We need to say that again...the district has an absenteeism rate of 39%!!! Chronic absenteeism means the student misses 10% or more of enrolled days. The reasoning behind the increase was due to COVID, high rates of transiency, housing and food insecurity. Home visits by attendance and re-engagement specialists made 2,500 visits from March to May of 2020.
The Board voted unanimously to use the updated metrics measuring data against this year’s data.
Goal 5.1.3 Disproportionality of students participation in advanced course work increased in all categories (ethnicity, special needs,children in transition) except for one, Pacific Islanders.
Disproportionality in suspension data showed that only 2 groups moved to proportionality, Native American and Pacific Islanders. One area of success, which Dr. LaMarca pointed out, was the approval by the Board to adopt the Anti-Racism Resolution action plan designed to target gaps in achievement and increasing equitable access.. I am not sure why they would tout this when the results showed an increase in nearly every racial ethnicities suspension rate. The district's all in strategy on equity is not penning out in these numbers.
3.05 Massive Labor Shortages in Transportation, Custodial, Nutritional Services, Special Ed.
We are critically short on bus drivers and they don't see things improving by next school year. They presented the findings on whether or not the week without the bus caused an increase in absenteeism. The data suggests that it depends on where you live and what school you attend. In some schools absenteeism declined.
Because the bus situation is so bad, they voted to continue the middle and high school bus hub situation for 22/23. It was also shown that WCSD grossly underpays their drivers. For a more indepth look at the busing issue, including district data and numbers, see our recent article here.
Nutritional Services, Custodial and Special Education Aids were also shown to have a massive shortfall in labor. They showed slides indicating WCSD is grossly underpaying for these positions too. Their fix for 22/23 will be to offer less "complex" meals for students, to vacuum schools only once a week and just do less. There will not be money to offer a raise. For a more indepth look at the custodial, nutritional and special education shortages, see our recent article here.
The Superintendent Search Comes to the Public
April 19th at 5pm - Meet and greet five Superintendent finalists at Hug High School
April 20th at 9:30am - In person interviews with the five finalists at the district office