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School trustees handle a full plate at meeting today
by Jessica Garcia
May 25, 2010 | 685 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO – A final budget will be voted on today at a regular meeting of the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees.

After months of preparation, school district staff feel the 2010-2011 budget is ready to submit to the state. Also, time is running out to make changes to the budget; it must be cleared by the board today because there are no school board meetings until after June 8, the date the district must submit the budget to the state. The board held a public hearing on the budget last week and it was met with little opposition.

Administrators, including Morrison, have been addressing a $37 million shortfall through concessions with teachers unions, large reductions to central services and spending down contingency funds.

The meeting will also address renewing the charter for I Can Do Anything Charter High School, the approval of technology upgrades in eight high schools and discussion of Superintendent Heath Morrison’s professional evaluation.

A 60-minute presentation is planned to discuss Morrison’s evaluation as he approaches the end of his first year as superintendent. Nevada Senate Bill 267 requires the evaluation to be held in public. Trustees will review Morrison’s performance in providing leadership to reach district goals, including attaining high achievement for all, creating a safe and orderly environment, ensuring community collaboration and equity in all schools and developing effective support operations.

Also on the agenda is a presentation on those schools that have not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for four years and are potentially in need of restructuring. Staff reports indicate 15 schools are in year four or year five status of not achieving the No Child Left Behind accountability measure that shows how the school is performing academically. Each school will be required to submit a restructuring plan to the district. None of the schools required to submit restructuring plans are in Sparks.

Three of the schools that have not met AYP for four or five years – Smithridge, Echo Loder and Veterans elementary schools in Reno – qualified for the School Improvement Grant (SIG), a rigorous effort to improve low-performing schools. One of the provisions of the grant is that the current principal for qualifying schools will have to be replaced and school staff could be restructured. Those schools, instead, will submit a SIG application rather than restructuring plan.

Staff reports state that schools will need to turn in their plans to the board by June 15. Then they go to the Nevada Department of Education by June 30. If both steps go well, the schools will have to implement the plan for their schools by Sept. 30.

Trustees will also consider renewing I Can Do Anything Charter High School’s charter, but staff reports state there is concern about its approval. The district’s Charter School support team say in reports that the school lacks a restructuring plan for its AYP year five status, its accreditation status with the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools, enrollment history, graduation rates, average attendance and curriculum. If the application is denied, I Can Do Anything will be provided time to correct these issues and resubmit its request for a renewed charter.

The district’s chief capital projects and facilities manage officer, Mark Stanton, will also inform the board that eight high schools, including Sparks and Spanish Springs, are in need of current technology infrastructure upgrades to increase security, communication and student assessment. Wireless Internet will be installed. The projects, to be completed this summer, are funded by the 2002 rollover bond and new bond revenues provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The cost of the projects is $10 million.

The meeting is today at 4 p.m. at the district’s central administration building’s board room at 425 E. Ninth St. in Reno.
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