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KUNR Youth Media is an award-winning program that trains high school students to be radio reporters. Our spring 2022 cohort has created a questionnaire for all of the candidates running for a seat on the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees.

2022 Elections: Washoe County School Board District D candidate surveys by KUNR Youth Media

Illustration with text that says, “KUNR Youth Media 2022 WCSD Board of Trustees District D candidate surveys.” There is an implied surface with a reporter’s notebook, a pencil, a roll of stickers and a ballot box placed on top of it.
Crystal Willis
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KUNR Public Radio

KUNR Youth Media is an award-winning program that trains high school students to be radio reporters. As part of KUNR’s 2022 election coverage, our spring 2022 cohort has created a questionnaire for all of the candidates running for a seat on the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees. This election cycle, there are three candidates running for the school board seat in District D:

Editor’s notes: Candidates have been listed in alphabetical order by last name. We have provided candidates’ responses to our questionnaire and each answer had a limit of 1,000 characters. Responses have not been edited for spelling, punctuation or grammar. Candidates’ answers have been fact-checked and editor’s notes have been provided as needed. Some candidates did not respond to the questionnaire after being reached out to multiple times; however, we will post their responses if they become available. Candidates were also asked to submit a headshot and these photos were included upon availability.


Jeff Baclet

KUNR reached out to this candidate by email and voicemail several times; however, we did not receive a response. We will update this web post with the candidate’s questionnaire responses if they become available.


Edgard Hitti

KUNR reached out to this candidate by email and voicemail several times; however, we did not receive a response. We will update this web post with the candidate’s questionnaire responses if they become available.


Elizabeth “Beth” Smith

For one week a month, bus schedules are suspended for one area of the school district, which has caused disruption to learning. Spanish Springs High School student Kesley says at her school, the buses aren’t running during AP testing and finals. What do you plan to do to fix the staff shortages?

Beth Smith smiles for a headshot photo. She’s wearing a green blouse and the background is out of focus.
Courtesy of Beth Smith
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Beth Smith is a candidate for Washoe County School District Board of Trustees District D.

My plan to fix staff shortages is to advocate for more funding in my role as a Trustee and personally as a mom to a kindergartener and 5th grader. Most people don’t know Washoe County receives the least amount of funding per pupil of all counties in Nevada. We receive less than Clark, less than Carson, less than everyone. This is due to the education funding formula, and I believe it’s flawed. I bring attention to it every chance I get and support the District’s campaign to have this changed at the state level. I also shared ideas with the District’s Chief Human Resources Officer on ways we can address feedback from applicants. One thing we hear is people need benefits. So I had an idea to combine jobs so a person driving a bus could also work in Nutrition Services or Facilities during downtime from driving. This increases their weekly hours and qualifies them for benefits, which is what they are asking for.

Editor’s note: Washoe County receives $7,318 per student from the state, which is the least amount compared to the other counties in Nevada.

Our Youth Media reporters have told us that the chronic usage of substitute teachers is disruptive to their ability to learn. They’re curious what concrete steps you would take to recruit and retain teachers.

Our teachers do not earn a salary that represents their value to our children, community, and county. The first step in recruiting and retaining teachers is to fight for funding at the state level, and I cover that in my response above. And I will keep fighting until it happens. The second step is to acknowledge teachers are burnt out with large class sizes and too much administrative work, especially following the pandemic. This we have control over now. I have already advocated for our incoming superintendent, Dr. Susan Enfield, to do a thorough audit of all the paperwork, administrivia, etc. that keeps teachers working long after their contract hours. I hear from teachers all the time that this can be done more efficiently, and I am championing their needs. For class sizes, we should approach staffing our schools so all classroom teacher positions are filled before we allocate roles for most special assignments, prioritizing the smallest class sizes possible.

We’re seeing a mental health crisis in schools, that includes the risk of suicide, as well as violence. Nick at the Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology (AACT) wonders what new methods of support for students you would advocate for?

Mental health is one of the most critical issues we face as a community, and our schools are on the front line of supporting kids and staff who have dealt with a lot of trauma over the past two years. As a mom, this also matters to me personally. A new approach I support is telehealth services for students into the Washoe County School District. Other school districts in Nevada and around the country have successfully welcomed telehealth partners for mental health and physical health support. Telehealth for mental health has already happened here and worked! Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve used some of the city’s pandemic recovery funding to pilot these services. About half the people who used it had never seen a therapist before. This has the potential to address the gap between the need our students have for mental wellness support and the practitioners available to help. It’s important to note that in telehealth, parents still give their approval before students receive services.

Editor’s note: At the end of 2021, KRNV reported that roughly half the users of the City of Reno’s TalkSpace program to provide online therapy had not sought mental healthcare previously.

AACT student Ellie says student meals are low quality, with a lack of fruits, vegetables and proteins. She said the meals are “something adults would never eat.” What steps would you take to increase the amount of healthy food at school?

Trustees actually do eat the food from the same central kitchen that prepares the food for all our schools. We have it for dinner at the long board meetings, we eat it when we visit schools. In total, millions of meals are prepared each year, and often those are the only meals our students will eat. With that said, I understand that food created and packaged on a large-scale is different from what you cook at home or in a restaurant. The meals follow a balanced diet with fresh fruits always available as an option, but I appreciate your feedback about how they can be better. The reality is that we do what our funding allows, and we do the best we can with the state and federal funding. This would be a great topic to bring to Student Voice, Ellie. Student Voice creates an opportunity to bring your ideas to District leaders so they can be considered with future decisions, which in this case is meal planning and options. You are also welcome to reach out to me personally.

Editor’s notes: According to a spokesperson with WCSD, trustees prefer to use the central kitchen, but that hasn’t happened this year because the catering department was eliminated due to nationwide staffing shortages.

Additionally, WCSD Nutrition Services follow federal nutrition guidelines, which include low and non-fat dairy options, lean protein choices, several fruit and vegetable options and grains with more than 50% whole grain ingredients. Learn more about WCSD Nutrition Services here.

Learn more about Elizabeth Smith at www.votebethsmith.com.


Click here to view candidate surveys for other Washoe County School District Board of Trustees races.

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