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WCSD Superintendent Enfield shares district challenges, changes in State of Education address

Superintendent Susan Enfield is standing on a stage and speaking to a crowd of district staff and community members in the cafeteria at Herz Middle School.
Jose Davila IV
KUNR Public Radio
Enfield delivers her state of education address to a crowd of district staff and community members at Herz Middle School on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Reno, Nev.

Washoe County School District Superintendent Susan Enfield gave her first State of Education address Thursday night and shared the challenges and changes the district is facing.

District staff and community members were invited to an open house featuring many of the district’s programs and refreshments provided by Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology culinary students. The Billinghurst Middle School Orchestra also played, and the mood was upbeat and energetic.

Enfield carried that energy, laced with pragmatism, into her speech. She shared the district’s vexing challenges, announced new changes to address them, and highlighted future opportunities for growth.

“I’ve been very upfront about the challenges that we face. I will be the most vocal cheerleader of this district because that’s my job as your superintendent, and I’m incredibly proud of the work that’s happening in our schools each and every day. I will also be, though, the most loving critic,” she said. “And my job is also to partner with our staff to make sure that we’re identifying areas where we can do better.”

Enfield spoke about five key challenges: staff shortages, declining enrollment, inadequate state funding, school safety concerns, and poor student achievement.

With the exception of declining enrollment, she offered changes to address each challenge. For staff, she announced an end to the 90-day waiting period for benefits for new hires and the elimination of one-year teaching contracts.

On the budget, she praised Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo’s proposed education funding and shared she hoped to provide more compensation to teachers. The district will also roll out an internal rapid response system for staff to more quickly report safety concerns.

As for student achievement, the district will cut down on what Enfield called “unnecessary” assessments will prioritize student growth metrics.

District 25 State Assemblywoman and North Valleys High School teacher Selena La Rue Hatch shared Enfield’s priorities.

“I agree with her on her assessment of our challenges, most especially funding which is my top priority in the state this session,” she shared. “I’m very heartened that there’s going to be a billion extra dollars per year in the school budget, but I want to make sure it’s actually getting there, and it’s getting to the things she talked about: reducing class size, getting to educator pay, and it’s going to public schools.”

Nevada’s biennial legislative session starts on Monday, Feb 6.

Jose Davila IV is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Jose Davila IV is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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