First Public Forum Gives Voters Opportunity To Vet School Board Candidates

Jun 9, 2016

School board candidates face off at public forum.

The Reno-Gazette Journal and the University of Nevada, Reno are hosting two public forums to give voters an opportunity to vet candidates vying for the four open Washoe County school board seats. The first one wrapped up last night and featured candidates running for Districts A and D. Seven of the nine candidates from those two districts attended the forum.

 

Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray sat down with RGJ education reporter and forum moderator Trevon Milliard for a recap.

 

 

 

 

The following is a list of the people running for Districts A and D.

 

District A Candidates

 

Dale Richardson (Did not attend public forum.)

Colleen Doenges

Scott Kelley

 

District D Candidates

 

Kenneth Grein

Lauren Hacker (Did not attend public forum.)

Kathleen Little-Bolotin

Brock Marquez

Malena Raymond

Emily Reese

 

Milliard covered a wide range of education topics including school overcrowding, school board transparency and the process for hiring a superintendent. 

 

Candidates agreed on most issues. Notably, all candidates indicated their support for a November ballot measure that would raise Washoe’s sales tax to 8.265 percent, which would generate funding for school capital projects. In contrast, all candidates opposed Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESAs) program, which is a school choice initiative that would provide families with about $5,000 per child for a private school education.

 

Milliard asked candidates to declare their support or opposition on several education issues during the “Lightning Round Questions.” A majority of those questions elicited agreement on the issues, with only a handful of questions generating disagreement among the group. "That [disagreement] was something hard to find, to be honest," Milliard says.

 

Questions included the approval of Superintendent Traci Davis’s contract,the number of school administrators working in the district and whether sex education should be broadened to include LGBT definitions. Below are the questions compiled by KUNR and the RGJ.

 

Candidates agreed on the following issues:

 

Would candidates support the November ballot measure to raise Washoe’s sales tax rate by half-a-percent to fund school infrastructure projects? 

 

All candidates responded yes.

 

Would candidates support the school district in allowing transgender students to choose the bathroom they want to use?

 

All candidates responded yes.

 

Do candidates support the Common Core curriculum?

 

All candidates responded yes.

 

Do candidates support Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESAs) program? The program is a voucher-like school choice initiative that gives parents about $5,000 a year per child and could go to pay for a private school education.

 

All candidates responded no.

 

Do candidates think that the district show follow federal guidelines to limit unhealthy snack options at school.

 

All responded yes, but Brock Marquez said his response is a “half-yes” answer. He said one of the first things he would do as a board member is allow students to bring cupcakes to school on  their birthdays.

 

The RGJ reported recently that the district is charging families 50 cents a page for copies of school records. Do candidates think this charge should be eliminated?

 

All candidates responded yes.

 

Candidates disagreed on the following issues:

 

Back in November, the school board approved Superintendent Traci Davis’s contract with a $238,000 starting base salary and includes car allowance and other perks. Would candidates have approved the contract as a board member?

 

Kathleen Little-Bolotin responded yes. All others responded no.

 

Does the district need to reduce its number of administrators working in the central office and at the school-level?

 

Malena Raymond and Emily Reese responded no. All others responded yes.

 

Do candidates think that Washoe County students should receive sex education that would include defining lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender?

 

Scott Kelley answered no. All others responded yes.

 

Should more charter schools be added to the Washoe County School District?

 

Kathleen Little-Bolotin responded no. All others responded yes.  

 

The second forum featuring candidates running for Districts E and G will be held on Thursday, June 9th at 6:30 p.m. in the Jot Travis Building on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Click here for details.