Common Core was at the forefront of discussions at the Churchill County School Board meeting Thursday night.
Trustees not only addressed the publics’ concern but also listened to what the public had to say.
Bob Clifford, a concerned resident, said there is some questions if the public is concerned or not concerned about Common Core.
“An education survey found teacher opposition of Common Core went from 12 percent opposed in 2013 to 40 percent opposed in 2014,” Clifford said. “Teacher opposition in one year, this is a nation poll, tripled. Another poll conducted by Gallup, of a thousand plus citizens ... family awareness increased from 38 percent to 81 percent in one year. In the 2014 latest poll opposition, 60 percent of those polled were opposed to Common Core. Whether it’s appropriate to spend some time on this ... I think yes it warrants a discussion, an open discussion.”
President Ron Evans told the trustee’s that a format to discuss Common Core needed to be created.
“I would ask the board to think about what it is you would like to accomplish and then how you wish to accomplish it,” Evans said. “An example would be are you interested in having it addressed during a regular meeting with a time limit, would you want a special meeting or would you like to have three or four board members bring it back to the board?”
Evans then had every trustee say what option each thought was best.
Trustee Carmen Schank said she would like to have those opposed and for Common Core present their views.
“Both sides can teach and instruct us and then we can make our decisions once we have the facts,” Schank said.
Trustee Greg Koenig countered Schank’s decision by asking her if she wanted to go against the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS).
“So you want to go against NRS?” Koenig said. “If our kids want to graduate high school they have to pass an exam based on Common Core. So you want to vote as a district not to prepare our kids to be able to pass the high school graduation exam?”
Schank said she wants details.
“I want information,” Schank said. “I want the people who have been coming to the board meetings to have a voice in this discussion.”
Koenig said the Tea Party is the small special interest group opposing Common Core.
Other trustees believed that a special meeting to hear both sides of Common Core should be scheduled.
After Evans continued to get trustees input for how to address the concerns of Common Core, Sharla Hales, legal counsel for the school board, interjected and said the trustees should first find out if there is anything that can be done so they do not mislead the public.
“I haven’t studied what you can do about it, but my guess is there’s not much,” Hales said. “So if you want to host an informational night you want to convey that message differently since you can’t take any action on it, perhaps you could pass a resolution. My understanding is there’s no way you could secede from the state system.”
Hales continued to say the board does not have open control over the Nevada Academic Standards under state controlled.
“As individuals you can take whatever individual action you want but as a board that takes action with authority there is nothing you can do to stop the implementations of the standards,” Hales said. “If you did so, you’d be violating your responsibility to support state law and as Greg (Koenig) said, you’d be undermining the ability of your students to pass the state exams to get their diplomas.”
Becky Dodd, president of the Churchill County Education Association, offered individuals at the meeting who oppose Common Core to visit her classroom to see her standards.
“I’m a little bit confused to what people are objecting too,” Dodd said. “There are some things that they and I can agree on, which would be the testing, but I really question about what part of my standards they disagree with. I would like to hear the specifics; you hear the generics from them every meeting, but they don’t have specific things. I would invite them to look at my standards and show me their concerns, so maybe I can alleviate some of their concerns or maybe they could make me aware of their concerns to see if I agree with them.”
After a lengthy discussion, Evans asked Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon to come back to the board with a plan for a district symposium to hear both sides of Common Core.
Other items the trustees approved include the following:
Approved to rename board policy 4450, site safety committee, as security committee and align the policy with the requirements of Nevada Revised Statutes 392.600 through 392.656.
Approved award of contract to Ferguson Construction of Fallon in the amount of $299,425 for construction of the Churchill County High School welding shop remodel project.
Approved request for qualifications for construction management services for current and existing projects.