School district staying course despite cuts

Douglas County School District is not wavering in the face of Gov. Jim Gibbons' cut for education. The school board recently passed a resolution opposing the cuts, and has set its top priorities for the year.

"We're going to continue to set priorities. If we have to make cuts, we will cut what least impacts student achievement," school board President Teri Jamin said.

Originally K-12 education was exempt from Gibbons' across-the-board cuts for state agencies prompted by a shortfall in tax revenue. But in December, Gibbons rescinded that exemption after other agencies said they'd be hit too hard.

"Now, we've got to utilize whatever funds are available in the most effective way," said Jamin.

The first priority set by the district is to provide summer school, night school, reading camps and other alternative programs for students.

"The district's mission is to educate all students," said Assistant Superintendent Nancy Bryant. "Our alternative education program helps to meet the educational needs of our expelled students as well as those who need further options to pursue their education."

Developing critical content for basic subjects and ways to test student progress was the second priority.

"We need to adjust instruction based on what we learn," said Superintendent Carol Lark. "Take fourth-grade long division for example. Teachers need sit down together, see exactly what they're teaching, how they're teaching it, and find common ways to assess progress."

The district's third priority is to give teachers collaboration time for developing assessments without taking away from class time.

Priorities four and five are also related: Review and revise middle school course content to prepare students for a more rigorous high school curriculum; and investigate link between high school achievement and college entrance success.

"I have a problem when high school graduates have to take remedial classes in college," said Lark. "They shouldn't have to do that. I'm working with University of Nevada, Reno to share data. I want to know how our graduates do."

Board member Sharla Hales said the district will maintain its high quality of education despite the cuts.

"Our vision for Douglas County students isn't dependent on funding. We create our vision, work our passion, and do the best we can with what we have," said Hales. "But you can only stretch a dollar so far, and people should be alarmed and should share their opinions with the governor."


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