Education

Traci Davis became interim superintendent for Washoe County Schools when Pedro Martinez was relieved of his duties last summer. It was a decision by the board of trustees that kicked off a long and costly legal process for the district.

Davis delivered her state of education address Thursday night and joins Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray to talk about goals for 2015 and the obstacles standing ahead.

Drone America

A former military contractor who spent the past three years flying drones in Iraq and Afghanistan is building a brand new curriculum at Truckee Meadows Community College. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that starting next semester, Mark Sharp will be training students how to operate and repair unmanned aerial vehicles.

MyPath

A program helping low-income, working teens learn how to save their paychecks and budget their finances is rolling out this summer in Reno. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details.

NOTE: This story and interview originally aired on KUNR in April of 2014.

The My Path program started in San Francisco five years ago and is now expanding into Reno.

Education leadership in Washoe County has seen several changes just this week as an interim superintendent took the helm and voters elected two first-time trustees. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that after several months of turmoil for the school board, the district is finally entering a new chapter.

Nick Smith beat out board President Barbara Clark by almost 30 percentage points, while Veronica Frenkel narrowly defeated Jim Shaw.

Pedro Martinez left the post of superintendent for Washoe County Schools this week, marking the end of a tumultuous series of events over the past several months that has prompted intense scrutiny of the board of trustees from the community. As the district closes this rocky chapter, Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss caught up with Traci Davis, the new interim superintendent to learn more about her background and priorities moving forward.

NV's Superintendent discusses Common Core

Oct 24, 2014

School districts across the state are implementing the new k-12 academic standards, known as Common Core. State education officials say they challenge students with a more rigorous curriculum that better prepares them for college. However, some teachers and education experts also criticize the standards as poorly designed and driven by corporate interests. 

Nevada's Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga responds to these concerns and explains what this new chapter in education reform means for public schools here. 

 

 

Western Nevada College

Nevada's four community colleges are getting federal grants for almost $10 million. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that the funding, which was announced this week, will go towards programs that train students for in-demand jobs across the state.

Now that Tesla will be setting up shop in Storey County to make batteries for its electric cars, Truckee Meadows Community College is planning to develop more programs for skilled high-tech workers.  Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss reports that the school will build on what it already has to offer.

A judge says the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees should buy out Superintendent Pedro Martinez in exchange for him leaving.

We are debuting our new Grammar Girl segment with author Mignon Fogarty, the creator of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network. Once a month, Mignon will explore the many intricacies and quirks of the English language with Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss. 

In the next seven years, the University of Nevada, Reno has big plans for expansion. At Wednesday's State of the University address, President Marc Johnson said the school will be hiring more faculty and constructing more buildings to keep up with record enrollment.

Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss attended the speech and has these details.

By 2021, UNR plans to hire at least 250 tenure-track faculty members to teach a projected 22,000 students. The school's current head count is just under 20,000--its highest enrollment ever.

Sparks Middle School continues to heal

Sep 16, 2014

It's been almost a year since 12-year-old Jose Reyes opened fire at Sparks Middle School last October, killing a teacher and himself, and injuring two other students. Reno Public Radio's Esther Ciammachilli reports that as the community continues to heal, a federal grant is providing the school with ongoing support.

A $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education will pay for trauma therapists to continue working with students and their families. They're keeping in touch with students who are no longer in the building as well.

Trustees settle with AG, pay out $1,500 each

Sep 9, 2014

The Washoe County School Board of Trustees has agreed to a settlement with the Nevada Attorney General over the board's improper firing of Superintendent Pedro Martinez.

 

Six of the trustees will pay $1,500 each for violating the Nevada Open Meeting law in multiple ways.

Attorney Kent Robison, who's representing the trustees, says they could have litigated this issue for months.

The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees is voting Tuesday on whether or not to accept a settlement agreement with the Nevada Attorney General over the improper firing of Superintendent Pedro Martinez. 

AG: Washoe school board broke the law

Sep 3, 2014

Nevada's attorney general says the Washoe County School Board violated the state's open meetings law when it ousted Superintendent Pedro Martinez. 

According to the complaint filed in district court on Tuesday, the school board broke the law in at least six different ways when trustees questioned Martinez about his status as a certified public accountant and then fired him.

State officials are telling the Washoe County School District it must change the way it handles Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs, for special needs students. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that some funding for the district could be at stake if the issue is not addressed swiftly.

Trcuckee Meadows Community College

Construction plans are being finalized for a new health science center at Truckee Meadows Community College. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports the facility at TMCC's Redfield campus in south Reno will lay the foundation for future expansion to the school's nursing program.

The $10 million project includes renovating an existing building along with constructing a new facility that will house a high-tech nursing simulation lab resembling real-world conditions.

University of Nevada, Reno

Campus has been bustling with thousands of students who started their classes Monday at the University of Nevada, Reno. This school year, more than 19,000 students are enrolled, setting a new record, and Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that campus living quarters are pretty tight in order to house 2,600 of those pupils.

Some dorm rooms are being converted from singles to doubles or from doubles to triples in order to meet demand.

At a recent conference at the University of Nevada, Reno, Governor Brian Sandoval spoke to nearly a hundred of the state’s education leaders about improving early childhood education. Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss reports that one of the governor’s top goals moving forward is to expand all-day kindergarten programs.

Right now, about two-thirds of elementary schools in Nevada have all-day kindergarten. Sandoval says he hopes to soon see it offered statewide.

A new portable classroom unit that is awaiting installation at Brown Elementary School.
Photo by Anh Gray

Students head back to school on Monday, but there aren’t enough classrooms for everyone. To alleviate the over-crowding, the Washoe County School District is installing about a dozen portable classrooms at several schools.  

From the inside, the third grade portable classroom at Brown Elementary in South Reno doesn’t look much different than a typical brick-and-mortar set-up.  There are colorful maps and flags on the walls along with piles of neatly stacked textbooks. 

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