School District Highlights Progress Against Pandemic Recovery Goals


The Washoe County School District Board of Directors (WCSD) only met six members Tuesday afternoon following the resignation of Jacqueline Calvert, who said she did not realize she had moved outside the boundaries of District F.

A timeline for Calvert’s replacement will be discussed at the next board meeting on September 28.

Public commentators present at the meeting attempted to prevent the meeting from continuing. They said the trustees should not approve the agendas and minutes of previous meetings because Calvert wrongly represented District F.

WCSD legal adviser Neil Rombardo said there was no issue with the trustees approving the agenda.

Disruptive public commentators have become the norm at school board meetings. Their rote complaints and conspiracy theories expressed behind ill-worn masks and shields often take longer than actual board business.

Drama during public comments at WCSD board meetings has become common among community members supporting anti-mask, anti-vaccine, and conspiracy theory.

Most of the same public commentators were in attendance Tuesday afternoon. James Benthem wore a large Star of David affixed to the front of his shirt, while Janet Butcher showed up disguised as Martha Washington.

“Isn’t this hat as ridiculous as this mask?” Butcher asked for the ruffled beanie she wore on her head.

Cathy Kennedy-Reyes mocked gender identity, telling the board that she had “identified” as the principal of the school that day and asking which administrator was going to stand up and talk to her. place at the table.

With the first public comment period at board meetings still being taken off the agenda after many boisterous meetings, public commentators spoke ahead of individual agenda items ahead of the comment period. of the general public at the end of the meeting.

The Board of Directors nonetheless dealt with the issues on its agenda.

Progress in pandemic recovery efforts

The board approved in June a two-year strategic plan for the district’s recovery from the pandemic and has since received staff updates on specific goals.

On Tuesday, they heard updates regarding their fourth goal of “Continuously improving effective, efficient, transparent and accountable operational systems” in the areas of transportation, facilities management, nutrition services and transportation technologies. ‘information.

Goals set for the Department of Transportation included delivering students on time 96.5% of the time, reducing accidents to 1.29 per 100,000 miles, and reducing the annual number of open bus driver jobs by 45 to 15, among others.

The school district almost met its goal of on-time delivery of students 96% of the time.

The number of accidents was 88. In 57 of them, the driver was at fault. Anytime anything comes in contact with a bus, from a tree branch to a trash can, it’s considered an accident. So these numbers do not necessarily represent collisions of buses with other vehicles.

More than half of the accidents recorded in the 2020-2021 school year occurred on land in the district. Bus lots, it has been noted, are well adjusted and mirror taps between buses can easily occur.

The school district has struggled to reduce the number of vacancies in its staffing areas, including transportation. The number of vacancies for bus drivers remains at 40.

Facilities management goals set by the district include reducing the number of critical repairs to be made in schools and reducing overcrowding.

The new schools opened in recent years have helped WCSD reduce the number of overcrowded schools from 13 to 6. Marce Herz College was completed on time for the 2020-2021 school year. Image: Eric Marks / C’est Reno

Meeting repair needs is done through facility condition inspections that aim to help the district optimize and maintain the physical condition and value of its assets, develop capital budgets and prioritize the resources.

These inspections have taken place more often during times of closure and have revealed that the district still has some way to go to meet its goals in this area. A reduced budget for the 2021 capital renewal plan due to the pandemic has not helped.

The neighborhood has been much more successful in reducing overcrowding. Thanks to the rezoning and opening of new schools, the neighborhood has grown from 13 overcrowded schools in the 2019-2020 school year to just six in the 2020-2021 year.

Nutrition services was another area where the district had made good progress towards its goals.

Nutrition services are managed as a corporate fund as defined in state law. Basically, the law defines how these funds work, which is very similar to a private enterprise, in which the expenses of business operations are recovered primarily through fees charged to users.

He was eviscerated by the pandemic, forcing the leave of nearly 100 employees.

One of the goals of Nutrition Services was to bring its fund back to balance in February 2020, or nearly $ 7 million. The district exceeded that amount by nearly $ 2 million, bringing the nutrition services fund balance to $ 8.9 million.

The goal of maintaining staffing levels of 95% or more was not quite met but was not far off at 91.2%.

The goals of the district IT department have been deeply affected by the pandemic. With distance learning last year, IT was constantly on guard. The volume of IT tickets (requests for help) and the time required to process them have increased.

The district has, however, been able to devote a significant amount of federal pandemic relief funds to the purchase of new laptops and other internet-connected devices. The IT department has been able to take an inventory of the number of devices owned by the district and is on track to meet its goal of replacing 20% ​​of the total number of laptops owned by the district each year.

Redistribution to be done after the results of the 2020 census

The 2020 census results have been released, which means it’s time for the school district to complete the redistribution.

By state law, the school district must have five regular districts and two general districts, all of which must have populations within 5% of each other.

Redistribution is not the same as rezoning. The redistribution does not affect where students go to school. It modifies the boundaries of the constituencies represented by each trustee.

Initial public comments will be solicited for the board meeting on October 12. The final boundary maps will be considered for adoption by council on October 26th. The Washoe County Registrar of Electors requested the final cards by November 1.

Vacancies on the Safe and Healthy Schools Commission to be filled

WCSD is seeking nominations for three positions on the Safe and Healthy Schools Commission.

The commission assists the board of directors on matters related to school safety and security, which may include prevention / response, emergency response and recovery. The group meets on the second Monday of each month at 2 p.m. during the school year, and meetings are held in the administration building on Ninth Street in Reno.

The board uses committees to advise directors and provide information on educational programs, safety, operations, financial reporting, maintenance and support services.

The online application is here.

Once applications are received, those who meet the requirements will be contacted for the next steps in the process. Ultimately, the board or the superintendent – as the committee turns out – gives final approval to the appointments.


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