Education | KUNR


Kristen McNeill is standing behind a podium in front of district staff. She is speaking into a microphone while announcing her upcoming retirement.
Paul Boger / KUNR Public Radio

The head of the Washoe County School District announced Thursday she will retire at the end of the school year.

There is a small wave inbound on a sandy shore of Lake Tahoe while large rocks are peaking out of the emerald water. A hill covered in trees is visible in the background. A snowcapped mountainscape is visible in the far background, too.
Will Stone

The Nevada Board of Regents recently signed off on a plan that will fold Tahoe’s Sierra Nevada University into the University of Nevada, Reno. First announced in early July, the merger could be complete as early as fall 2022, but the schools have to get approval from a number of other educational regulatory agencies. KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with UNR President Brian Sandoval to talk about the process.

WCSD Superintendent Kristen McNeill is sitting next to Board President Angie Taylor behind a folding table with a black table cloth. Both are looking down as McNeill reads prepared remarks.
Paul Boger / KUNR

Washoe County schools will soon form a task force to evaluate the district’s potential K-5 grade social justice curriculum. The group will examine teaching materials on topics such as racism and equality. KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with Washoe County School District Superintendent Kristen McNeill to learn more.

Exterior of the Washoe County School District administration building.
Paul Boger / KUNR Public Radio

The Washoe County School Board is creating a task force to review materials related to the district’s K-5 social justice curriculum. The board formed the task force after hours of public comment in opposition to social justice being taught in schools.

An etching of the seal of Nevada on a window.
Brian Bahouth / Sierra Nevada Ally

Summer school will likely look a lot different this year. Lawmakers in Nevada are considering a measure that would extend optional, in-person instruction into June and July for many students around the state. It’s just one idea educators are eyeing as they work to get students back on track. KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with Nevada’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert about what the state is doing to make that happen.

Exterior of the Washoe County School District administration building.
Paul Boger / KUNR Public Radio

The Washoe County school board recently entertained the idea of cutting the district's gifted and talented program. With Nevada's tax revenues continuing to languish because of the pandemic, the state's public education system is facing a serious budget crunch. To get a sense of how the legislative session may impact Northern Nevada's largest school district, KUNR's Paul Boger spoke with Lindsay Anderson, the district's government affairs director, at a recent school board meeting.

WCSD Superintendent Kristen McNeill is sitting next to Board President Angie Taylor behind a folding table with a black table cloth. Both are looking down as McNeill reads prepared remarks.
Paul Boger / KUNR

Washoe County School Superintendent Kristen McNeill says a robocall meant to support families after last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol may have been better sent in a letter. But McNeill stands by her message despite some criticism.

Jet is sitting on a stool and is drinking from his cup while working on his online school work.
Courtesy of Chandra Watkins

Face coverings, distance learning and barren playgrounds. This is the “new normal” for the education system, and for students with special needs, remote learning presents unique challenges. Students with autism learn and adapt in different ways from other children, so during the COVID-19 pandemic, the education of students with autism has been disrupted – and not only their educational routine but also their at-home routine, which could go something like this:

Boxes with papers inside them line a fence outside of Glenshire Elementary School.
Molly Carnell / The Hitchcock Project

Every day before school, Stephanie Bacon wakes up hopeful and excited that she has put together a lesson plan that she believes will work for her students to engage and learn. Yet every day, she leaves feeling like all of her effort went nowhere. 

Empty board room of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents

In this upcoming election, Nevadans will also get to vote on several policies and positions that will impact higher education throughout the state. KUNR’s Olivia Ali and Natalie Van Hoozer discuss what to look out for in the upcoming election.

A globe sits on classroom desk with an open book
Frangofoto / Shutterstock

A recent report card on climate change education in public middle and high schools across the U.S. ranked Wyoming at the top of the class with a solid A. The rest of the Mountain West was mixed.

Sandoval, dressed in a tan suit with a silver and blue tie, stands behind a podium with the Nevada seal with a UNR backdrop behind him.
Isaac Hoops / Nevada Sagebrush

Former Governor Brian Sandoval has officially been named the next president of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Promotional graphic for the event, featuring the headshots of the three panelists.

Lee en español. 

With the fall semester underway for public schools across the state, KUNR recently hosted a Facebook Live event in Spanish, with health and education experts, to answer community questions. 

Our bilingual reporter Natalie Van Hoozer moderated the Q&A and spoke with Jayden Perez to recap the main takeaways from the discussion.

A student is sitting in a desk facing the front of a classroom and is holding a pencil down on a piece of paper.
Elineriipers / Flickr Creative Commons

Lee en español.

For weeks, community members have been asking the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees to set a threshold that would use specific metrics to determine if and when the district would stop in-person instruction during the pandemic. Some trustees said in a meeting Tuesday they do not want to draw a hard line.

Rows of red school chairs placed in an empty classroom.
dcJohn / Flickr Creative Commons

As many schools across our region are turning to distance learning to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus, districts are concerned about how to enforce attendance for remote students.

A photo of a lined piece of paper with math equations, with a pen resting on top.
BackOnTheBus / Flickr Creative Commons

Lee en español. 

Last week, José Piceno started his fifth year as a math teacher at Sparks High School in Washoe County.  

High schools in the county are operating with a hybrid model this fall, meaning some coursework is in-person and some is online. 

Our reporter Natalie Van Hoozer talked to Piceno about his experience returning to the classroom. 

A teacher in make-shift personal protective gear.
Photo Courtesy of a WCSD teacher

Lee en español.

Washoe County School teachers and students are returning to school and trying to adapt to a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. The district's approach to reopening schools includes individualizing materials and maintaining social distance in the classroom, which might be uniquely challenging in special education classrooms. KUNR’s Stephanie Serrano caught up with an elementary school special education teacher and has this story.

Students walking in front of a university building
David Calvert / The Nevada Independent

Sweeping changes to federal rules governing the investigation of sexual misconduct on college campuses finally took effect earlier this month. Sprawled across more than 2,000 pages of legal guidance, the changes cap a years-long regulatory march by the Education Department under Secretary Betsy DeVos toward reversing Obama-era rules governing such investigations.

A photography class. Students are sitting down and looking toward a stage with lights and cameras.
Leo P. Hidalgo / Flickr Creative Commons

Hunter Rand works as a video production and broadcast journalism instructor at Spanish Springs High School in Washoe County. He’s only been a teacher for one school year, so the pandemic has already impacted a significant portion of his teaching career.

KUNR reporter Natalie Van Hoozer spoke with Rand to explore how he’s been preparing for school starting back up.

Two people hold signs. One says, “I can teach from a distance but not from a grave,” and “Please don’t kill my wife.”
Lucia Starbuck / KUNR Public Radio

Many Washoe County teachers and parents protested the reopening of schools before the Board of Trustees’ first in-person meeting since March. Despite the teachers’ pleas, the board confirmed that school will be starting in person on Monday, August 17.