Education

Julia Ritchey

 Washoe County voters haven't approved new school funding since 2002, and that bond expired three years ago. Without enough money to build new schools or fix old ones, the district will be at the mercy of voters yet again next November. As we continue our Bursting at the Seams series, Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey examines this imminent funding crisis.

At the end of the last legislative session, Governor Brian Sandoval passed a $1 billion tax package, the biggest tax hike in state history, to fund sweeping education reforms — but with one noticeably absent component.

Alexa Ard

Much of the debate around overcrowding in Washoe County schools has centered on the idea of shifting to a year-round schedule, also known as multi-track. But for high schools and most middle schools, even that solution won't work. Reno Public Radio’s Amy Westervelt has the story for our series Bursting At The Seams.

Washoe County high schools that are exceeding their capacity, of which there are already seven, have various schedule constraints that take year-round school off the table.

Board Delays Year-Round Switch For Packed Schools

Dec 9, 2015
Julia Ritchey

  Four severely overcrowded Washoe County elementary schools have been spared from going to a year-round calendar next school year. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports.

The Washoe County School Board voted unanimously to keep Brown, Double Diamond, Maxwell and Sepulveda on a nine-month calendar for the 2016/17 school year.

The move gives school officials one more year to come up with a multi-track calendar that will be adopted by many schools in the district facing exploding student growth.

Julia Ritchey

Editor's Note: This story won an Associated Press Television and Radio Association (APTRA) award for best use of sound in a hard news story in 2015. Learn more

The Washoe County School District is facing an overcrowding crisis — with a majority of its schools at or over capacity. As we continue our Bursting at the Seams series, Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey visits Double Diamond Elementary to experience what it’s like as a student in a jam-packed school.  

School Board President Defends Davis Contract

Dec 1, 2015
Julia Ritchey

  The chairman of the Washoe County School Board says he wants to set the record straight on a controversial contract for Superintendent Traci Davis. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey reports.

Sixty-thousand parents and staff across the Washoe County School District got an email Monday night from School Board President John Mayer defending Davis' compensation package.

The note comes about a week after the board voted 5-2 to approve a $311,000 contract for Davis, which includes a longevity bonus, generous backpay and a car allowance, among other perks.

Julia Ritchey

  

  In a 5-2 vote, the Washoe County School Board approved a controversial contract with Superintendent Traci Davis after nearly four months of negotiations. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey was there.

The contract will give Davis a base pay of $238,000, the same as her predecessor Pedro Martinez, and more than $70,000 in benefits, including backpay, a vehicle allowance and attorney's fees.

Davis says the contract is fair.

School District Drafts Plan To Deal With Overcrowding

Nov 19, 2015
Julia Ritchey

  The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees approved a draft plan Wednesday night to address overcrowding and skyrocketing student growth. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey was there and has the details.

The school district finally has an initial game plan for how it wants to alleviate overcrowding and critical infrastructure needs through the year 2024.

Pete Etchart, chief operating officer for the district, presented their "Strategic Blueprint" to the board of trustees on priorities for new construction.

Courtesy Planet3

A new education company with some big-name tech and science backers aims to bring immersive, multi-media science learning into schools, starting with Nevada public schools. 

Alexa Ard

Nevada education officials have awarded grants aimed at getting 134 students through fast-track teacher training programs in time for next school year. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

The Nevada Board of Education voted last week to award more than $2.3 million in scholarship money to six institutions with what are called Alternative Routes to Licensure programs, which allow people with bachelor's degrees to transition into teaching.

The grants are part of the Teach Nevada Scholarship Program introduced by Governor Brian Sandoval.

More Out-Of-State Students Joining The Pack

Nov 4, 2015
Alexa Ard

This fall, the University of Nevada, Reno saw a 17 percent increase in out-of-state enrollment. Steve Maples is the Director of Undergraduate Admissions for the school. He spoke with our public radio partner KNPR in Las Vegas, saying he hopes this trend continues.

“The first thing we want to grow is talented students," says Maples. "We want to grow in diversity of students, and we want to grow in geography.”

Besides attracting out-of-state students, Maples also wants to keep them here, something he says is getting easier.

TMCC

Leadership will soon change hands at Truckee Meadows Community College. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details.

Rules Amended For State's School Choice Program

Oct 20, 2015
Julia Ritchey

  Parents waiting for funding from the state’s new Education Savings Account program got good news today. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey has the details.

Nevada Treasurer Dan Schwartz says those accounts will start receiving payments from the his department in February instead of April, pending lawmaker approval.

The state legislature passed a bill on party lines this spring creating the accounts, which allow parents to claim most of their child's state education funding to use toward private or homeschooling.

Grant Hewitt is Treasury spokesman.

Alexa Ard

Almost a thousand classrooms across Nevada do not have licensed teachers. To learn more about the state's troubling teacher shortage, and how it could affect education reforms just passed by lawmakers, Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss spoke to Trevon Milliard, the K-through-12 education reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal. He also spent four years covering education in Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Alexa Ard

Washoe County is reporting its highest high school graduation rate in history, with a more than 3% increase last school year. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details.

Overall, the state department of education is reporting Nevada's preliminary graduation rate as 70.9 percent for the Class of 2015, up from a flat 70% the year before. That uptick is largely because of improvements within the  Clark County School District, one the of largest in the country. 

Alexa Ard

With a new leader at its helm, Sierra Nevada College is looking to grow. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that the school specifically plans to expand its teaching licensure programs as the state's teacher shortage deepens.

New Report On School Overcrowding Looks At Fixes

Oct 5, 2015
Alexa Ard

  The Washoe County School District is facing mounting pressure to address the surge of students expected over the next five years. As Reno Public Radio’s Julia Ritchey reports, the school’s Board of Trustees heard new proposals Monday on possible solutions.

With no money to make capital investments and a projected enrollment growth of almost 2 percent starting next year, the school district is in a time crunch.

That’s why it paid a Minneapolis consulting firm $25,000 to review the county’s overcrowding and capacity problems.

A Conversation: Keeping Rural Kids On Track To Graduate

Sep 25, 2015
Alexa Ard

Nevada's rural high schools face unique roadblocks when it comes to helping their students make it to graduation and beyond. To learn more, Brent Boynton from our public media partner KNPB reached out to Adam Young, the principal at White Pine High School in Ely. Here's their conversation.  

 

Young's district has a graduation rate higher than 90%. He says that one of the positives about rural education is making one-on-one connections with students. 

"With all the challenges of rural education," Young said, "that is the beauty of it." 

KUNR

Truckee Meadows Community College will use a $4.3 million gift to help high school students prepare for jobs in what is shaping up to be a demanding technical industry in northern Nevada. Reno Public Radio’s Esther Ciammachilli has that story.

The grant is the largest gift TMCC has ever received. The money will allow the school to inaugurate the Technical Pathway program and begin the second phase of renovations to the Edison site, the school’s center for technical training.

Alexa Ard

 

School choice is a phrase you’ve been hearing a lot lately as Nevada rolls out its education savings account program, which gives parents funds for alternative schooling. Debates over the program are highlighting broader issues in education funding.  To begin with, the Nevada State Plan, which governs school funding in the state, hasn’t actually been updated since 1967.

 

  

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