An open letter to Keith Lewis. Please stay as superintendent of Douglas County Schools and continue our School District as No. 1 in Nevada. You were right and those that opposed you were wrong.
Work with board
Whether one liked the outgoing school superintendent, or not, should be of no consequence nor should his personality be of any consequence as well.
In reality what did matter, was the unwillingness to serve the school board in accordance with their direction and instruction. Wanting to do things the way it was done under the prior board and then wanting the newly elected board majority to just rubberstamp these actions. That is just not how it works sir, nor should it be, in my humble opinion.
Saying that being pushed out without cause is disingenuous at best. Conducting oneself as the boss and ignoring the duly elected school board showed contempt not only for the board, but for the people of Douglas County and, really, created a dangerous precedent.
There are some who would say that, for the past year, the newly elected board majority has been hamstrung from implementing their vision for the DCSD under which students, teachers, and all stakeholders would have succeeded and prospered. Now they will have the opportunity to rectify the problem. I wish them well and thank them for their enviable efforts to date.
Robert M. Hellen, Sr.
It certainly looked like Trustee Gilkerson was trying to drag things out at the Douglas County School Board meeting on Sept. 12. She apparently, without any advance notice to her fellow trustees or any effort to resolve her “concerns” in advance, pulled the attorney fees application from the consent calendar. If Trustee Gilkerson’s intent was to waste public and county time, she succeeded to the tune of one and a half hours nit- picking the attorney bill. Is she still angry that the majority of the board [this is still a democracy] replaced an attorney, who was deemed ineffective, with one who is at his peak and can represent the Board, as it should be? Yes the bill was higher than before. The new attorney has been inundated with lawsuits, document requests, and alleged technical violations by a bunch of sore losers, all this in addition to his regular duties. What would Trustee Gilkerson have him do? Not do the work? Work for free? In what world does Trustee Gilkerson live?
Topaz Ranch Estates
A rhyme for the time
At the ballot, choices led us astray,
For the wrong candidate, we cast our say,
Now in the realm of legal battles, strange and bizarre,
A metaphor arises, like a distant star,
Hiring a lawyer, a personal injury ace,
To represent the school district’s case,
Is akin to a proctologist, quite absurd,
Performing open heart surgery, undeterred.
For in matters of law, as in matters of health,
The specialist’s knowledge is key to one’s wealth,
A proctologist, skilled in matters below,
May find the heart’s intricacies hard to know.
Just as a surgeon, with a scalpel precise,
Knows the heart’s chambers, its rhythm, its vice,
A lawyer must grasp the law’s vast terrain,
To navigate pitfalls, triumph or strain.
In the realm of personal injury, he’s found his space,
Navigating complexities of an insurance case,
Though we don’t diminish his legal shine,
In safeguarding our schools, he won’t be a lifeline.
For schools need protection, experience profound,
A legal representative who’s always around,
To fathom the statutes, the rules, and the lore,
And guide them through perils, as LeGoy did before.
So, in matters of law, heed this sage decree,
Like a proctologist performing surgery, you’ll see,
Hiring the right expert, is the prudent way,
To safeguard children’s interests, come what may.
Amidst this tempest of perspectives, let reason be your guide,
The school board can excel, with children’s needs in stride.
It’s not just politics alone; your mission is profound,
To nurture young hearts and minds, where our future can be found.
James Lawrence Esq.
Hales’ partisan patter
According to an article in this paper last Sept. 30, Sharla Hales, speaking at the Business Council Forum on Sept 28th attempted to explain away the poor scores of the DCSD student body on a nationwide test by saying scores were” between two different testing regimes” and called attempts at comparison as “inaccurate and inexcusable”. Conspicuously, Mrs. Hales offers no solutions. Only criticism.
Interestingly enough, the test scores were out and on the screen behind Mrs. Hales, yet the Trustees had not received them after asking repeatedly for them to Mr. Lewis. The scores were available quickly enough to throw the conservative board members against the wall, but not to the School Board president when she had been asking for them. She finally received them almost two weeks after from an unnamed individual after that egregious meeting. The complete absence of information flow from Mr. Lewis to the new trustees has been since they took office.
But what is really “inaccurate and inexcusable” is her partisan diatribe, as quoted in the paper, that the school board is “seeking to take away his [Superintendent Lewis’] ability to send communication to families.” I feel this is patently false. From the school board published agenda, it appears that the board is only seeking to require the Superintendent to first get their approval as to form and content for regular communications with families. That is proper and regular. The superintendent is the employee of the Board and as such he is supposed to be under their supervision and control, not the other way around. Hales, on the other hand, says this is “undermining the ability of the superintendent to do his job.” False again. He is merely being required to pass those communications through his bosses first. He is, after all, not a free agent. Hales acts as if she does not understand who is supposed to be running the show – our elected officials or their employee.
Simply stated, she should not have stated as a fact something which is merely, at best, her opinion.
Hales is an attorney and should know better than to attempt to pass of partisan propaganda as fact. Now that is ‘inaccurate and inexcusable’.
Please support our district
My name is Jennifer Tanner. I have lived in Douglas County for 40 years – 20 at the lake – 20 in the valley. My own children went k-12 at the Lake schools. Two of my grandchildren went k-12 in the valley. I taught for 20 years in the district at the elementary level. My daughter is in her 20th year teaching at Douglas High.
You have been entrusted with the education of our community’s children. As trustees you have been handed the current No. 1 school district in Nevada. EPIC Douglas County! What are your duties as trustees? Five answers came up repeatedly in my research.
Number One: As trustees you are to support excellence in student achievement and the creation of a positive and effective learning environment. Our district’s mission statement is a vision for excellence in academics and character that includes all of our community’s children. As trustees your mission is on behalf of our students. Our community’s schools are not a venue for partisan political platforms or a pulpit for spiritual guidance from a particular sect or denomination. You are to be advocates for all children of Douglas County.
Number Two: It is your job as trustees to learn the parameters of your role. There are district, state and national codes and regulations that define your job. To serve as a trustee you must be cognizant of these codes. Yet this board has proposed removing bylaws that require you to attend professional development workshops or that you be informed on educational issues frequently brought before the board.
Number Three: The trustees shall work hand in hand with the chief executive officer to provide support, ensure accountability and advocate for all students. In school districts the chief executive officer is the Superintendent. In Douglas County that is Keith Lewis.
Number Four: The trustees shall manage budget items before them in a fiscally responsible manner. 90 percent of most school district’s money is spent when the facilities are open, the lights and heat on and all staff paid. There is not a great deal of discretionary funding. Trustees must judge any expenditure against the district’s goals for our students.
Number Five: Trustees shall foster a curriculum that provides fields of study that create positive learning environments for all students: the scholars, musicians, artists ,student athletes, tradesmen, special needs students and yes, for those who just cruise through their school years and those who are dazed and confused by it all.
Five tasks of school board Trustees. You have lost your way.
But the good news is: our community is here to help you learn how to be stewards of our children’s education, celebrants of our incredible employees and positive promoters of public education.
Support the school board majority
Cheers for our new school board majority. I an so thankful for their efforts, each of them – Katherine Dickerson, Doug Englekirk, Dave burns and Susan Jansen. All Of Douglas County owes them a huge debt of gratitude. They and their newly appointed attorney Joey Gilbert have done a fantastic job of returning our school district to one of traditional values.
Unfortunately, and no credit to them, a vocal group of sore losers (whose ringleader seem to be the prior school board president who lost to President Susan Jansen) apparently have nothing better to do except to scurry around and say mean things about the above mentioned. How crass can one get? Sore losers all. And the Oct. 7 meeting was even worse.
All they achieve is to run up expenses and create discord where none is need exist and otherwise making everyone’s job harder and more costly. Indeed, even Commissioner Sharla Hales took some cheap and unwarranted shots as the Business Council meeting of Sept. 28. No class, in my opinion. Indeed, shame on them all.
Please continue to support our fine school board majority. From what I see, all are working very hard to make our school district and its pupils the best they can be.
What’s ‘woke’ actually mean
In response to the full page ad appearing in the Sept. 27, 2023, Record Courier funded by Nevada 1st Pac. The website indicates it is a PAC registered by the Federal Election Commission out of Alexandria, Va. Who are they and why are they funding advertisements for a Nevada school district? Please look up the website. If anyone in Douglas County is collaborating with this out of state group, I’d like them to identify themselves instead of hiding behind the name 1st Nevada PAC. Let’s be transparent about who is funding these advertisements?
First I want to explore the meaning of “woke” since it is widely used in the Nevada1st PAC advertisements to describe a group of people who purportedly have an irrational and evil agenda, especially when it comes to our local schools and students. As defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary “woke” means: “aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)”. Another definition provided by the Oxford English Dictionary “alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.
I would prefer to be “woke” rather than “asleep”.
Furthermore, while grateful to live in a country with the freedoms we enjoy, let’s not close our eyes to the realities of slavery, racial oppression, segregation, and disparities that exist to this day. These facts should be included in lesson plans to be taught in our local schools.
The inference that the woke agenda is encouraging the sexualization of children is false. It does perplex me why gender differences are so frightening to many people. Gender differences do not imply perversion, pedophilia or deviant behaviors. They are not a threat to our children. I don’t care how somebody identifies their own sexuality. I am more concerned about a persons character, principles and integrity, something that certain members of the school board and these Nevada PAC members clearly lack.
In reference to the comparison of math and english scores from 2017/18 to 2021/22, perhaps the Nevada 1st PAC has forgotten the dire situation our local, state, and national schools faced during the COVID epidemic. Regardless of your beliefs about the origin of this virus, or whether or not masks or vaccines were necessary, or whether schools and businesses should have closed, this district under the leadership of Keith Lewis, survived the threat of teachers and students becoming infected by teaching online while keeping students and teachers and staff safe from an epidemic traveling through our local community.
Online teaching was difficult at best. Lessons may have suffered. Kids and teachers suffered, and perhaps math and English scores suffered. But I can assure you it wasn’t simply Douglas County schools whose scores dipped during that challenging time. In fact referencing the website that this political advertisement recommended I found that most school districts in the State of Nevada had reduced scores during this time period.
Stop sowing your seeds of fear and misinformation in a community whose school district has been so highly regarded.
Thanks to Kiwanis
Thank you Kiwanis for your donation to our READing Paws and Reading Furends programs.
Program concept- allow kids to read allow to animals in a safe environment with no judgement attached to reading speed or mistakes. This improves the literacy skills of children with the help of pet reading teams.
Pet and handler reading teams are trained by the following organizations.
READing Paws is an Affiliate of R.E.A.D.® (Reading Education Assistance Dogs®), a program of Intermountain Therapy Animals® (ITA) of Salt Lake City, Utah
Alliance of Therapy Dogs- Reading Furends
How the program works.
Kids signup to reserve a 15 minute reading slot.
Kids can read anything they want during their reading time.
Very young children can join in and talk about the pictures of a book.
The main idea is to get the kids to do the reading. This is practice time!
When the child is done reading, they sign in with their reading score card.
The reading score card builds up time and the kids get rewards- stickers and small prizes.
The Kiwanis gave the Douglas County Public Library funds to support two new reading pet teams.
How do we get a new reading pet team for the library?
It starts with a nice person and a gentle calm pet. They work as a team. Personality! (They must like people and other pets)
The pet owner contacts the organization for certification.
They get a list of training requirements that they will be tested on.
They join the READing Paws for Read Furends)
They get training tips and advice to practice.
They get tested and must pass to be certified. (The library will reimburse costs when a team passes training, thank you Kiwanis)
They go through probation with other members and get graded
The library provides safe space and we keep track of readers
If you would love to volunteer with your pet and need more information please contact Douglas County Public Library. 775-782-5754
October and the Pink Ribbon
It can be devastating. It can be heart-wrenching. It can be a total surprise. It can be cured or extend life with powerful treatments and radical cutting. It can cause a slow and painful death or one within a few months. Cancer - the disease, malignancy, tumor, growth which can bring us to our knees.
October, Breast Cancer Month… Pink ribbons and pink flowers filling large pots along our well-traveled Main Street are reminders of this vicious attack on bodies….reminders of lost friends and relatives as well as beloved pets, but also a reminder that there are survivors, too, and this affords hope – maybe not this year, maybe not next year but in the decades coming.
Great strides have already been made and will continue. Clinical trials are critical. This writer is well-aware of this having had a double mastectomy in 2007 with four cancers in one breast – three different kinds. Mammograms every year. No family history. Researchers are devising reliable predictors of developing breast cancer and survival rates (medicalxpress.com/news/2023-08-year=breast-cancer.html).
A multitude of thanks to all areas of research – individuals who devote themselves to finding cures, inventors who spend decades seeking out new cancer medicines, biomedical engineers designing new equipment, DNA scientists who laboriously scan multitudes of data searching for tidbits of information connecting the dots and medical personnel who continuously and gently support and encourage patients. Thank you more than words can express.
Robin L. Sarantos
Haunted by a Disrespectful Society
I am haunted by a disrespectful society.
I admit that there are more than a million things that disappoint me about the state of our society, and by extension, our community. Life’s challenges affect all of us in different ways, and attitudes often reflect. For my millennial mind on the heels of a global pandemic and the toes of economic uncertainty, the rampant inflationary insanity paints a bleak future for many of us. The prospect of owning a decent home in the region I grew up in seems an almost impossibility on any timeline. A tank of gas costs a pretty penny from each paycheck, and a cart of groceries gets filled about half as high as it did 10 years ago. There’s a lot to be in a bad mood about.
With the aforementioned tribulations a reality for many of us, it’s easy to get fed up with each other a little quicker than we’re used to. What’s not okay, however, is how we’re treating one another. As a child, I was taught by the older generations that I was growing up into a world of respect. Don’t like someone? That’s okay, but you’d better treat them with respect. Be the voice of reason. Become the better future.
Alas, the words of many of those very same teachers and mentors ring negativity to our fellow neighbors in the permanent ink that stains these very pages. The same voices that preached personal responsibility and the importance of action have hypocritically shifted into petty disagreements, and all the way down to hateful criticism and personal attacks. On a daily basis in various forms of media, I watch neighbors attack neighbors. I watch members of our community cut each other off in traffic and—in some cases—risk the lives of their fellow man to get quick revenge. I watch toxicity spew through keyboards.
We are better than this.
If we’re ever going to move forward as a society and a community, we really need to start treating each other with kindness, and at the very least, with respect.
Let’s be a community
I write this letter to you as an almost lifetime member of the community. We moved here from Oregon in 1994 when I was barely 10 years old. When we moved here the community embraced us and helped to make sure that my family became successful not only in business but also as members of the community, and we equally supported the community. Though we are lucky enough to be entering our 30th year here, things have sure changed.
Why is part of our community against affordable housing? Why do they assume that the people who take care of them at the grocery store, gas station, dry cleaner, etc. can afford to live here? Why don’t these people talk to the people around them and find out who they are and how they can help them to continue to live here, where most of us have grown up and where we want to raise our families.
Let’s be the most community oriented place to live. I know for a fact that there are numerous places where people can volunteer or donate to and they can use your time and money to grow. You never know when you may find yourself in need of one of our organizations. Some examples are, The Suicide Prevention Network, Family Support Council, Aktion Club, Backpack Buddies are just a few. If these organizations don’t ring a bell then start up a conversation with one of our locals and I guarantee they will have some ideas.
Show up at a county commission meeting and ask for affordable housing. Let’s be a community that loves and supports each other.
Good art show
I’m pleased that I was one in a large group of art lovers who attended the opening reception of the 3rd Annual Sierra Nevada Invitational Art Show and Sale held at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center on Sept. 30. Nine of the West’s best artists came together to showcase a curated body of high-quality creative works, seen for the first time. The show was created by local Artists Teri Sweeney and Joe Millazo. Teri Sweeney has lived in the Carson Valley for over 17 years. Her work is an outstanding representation of the beauty that surrounds us here. Joe Milazzo re-located her from Arcadia, California and his work with the Pencil and Ink is a God-given talent. Sheri Greves-Neilson, is another local Artist. Her wonderful paintings of animals she finds on the local ranches rest in many local homes.
This Show is representative of the evolving arts and culture scene here in the Carson Valley. It’s a perfect example of our local talented Artists Connecting - Collaborating - and Creating. As this continues, our Carson Valley Artists are working to make our Valley an ever-bigger Arts Destination. Many Thanks to Dennis Little, the Museum Director and his talented staff of volunteers who hosted the Show.
The Sierra Nevada Invitational Art Show is the result of Teri and Joe’s vision of the Fine Arts as a unifying force in our Valley. It is produced for the enrichment of our residents and to showcase the incredible talents of our Artists. What could be better?