National Teacher’s Day is Tuesday
Douglas County schools excel time and time again when it comes to academics and graduation rates, both statewide as well as nationally, thanks to Douglas County’s teachers.
May 8 brings National Teacher’s Day, which falls each year on the first Tuesday of the first full week in May.
Mark Lilly, who will celebrate his 25 years in teaching next year, said it’s the culture Douglas High cultivates.
“We focus on the foundations — math, english, science — but we also make sure to offer AP classes, extracurricular activities, and athletics, more so than other rural schools,” Lilly said. “Having one school in the community allows more focus on what happens, and encourages a connection to kids. If kids feel safe and included, they’ll do better. While I’ve been here, the culture has changed drastically to be more inclusive to students that may be on the fringes.”
How do Douglas County teachers stack up in comparison with the rest of the state, and the country?
In the 2016-17 year, there were nearly 26,000 public school teachers employed within the state of Nevada, with 378 working in Douglas County, according to the Nevada Department of Education. The average salary across the board was $57,000, with a $37,500 average starting salary, falling slightly below the U.S. average of $59,000.
Nevada teacher’s are paid slightly higher than most surrounding states, with Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona coming in with an overall average salary of $46,000, but California blows Nevada out of the water with a $78,000 average salary. Salaries and benefits make up $42.6 million of Douglas County’s budget, according to the school district.
Douglas County expects to receive $5,710 per pupil from the state during the next fiscal year.
According to the state, of the $10,831 spent per pupil in 2016-17, $6,298 went to instruction and $1,192 went to instruction support.
The Douglas County school district tentative budget for 2018-19 is $76.3 million, with $7.99 million in proprietary funds.
On that amount, $24.1 million comes from the 75-cent per $100 assessed valuation property tax rate.
A public hearing on the final budget is scheduled for 5 p.m. May 22 at the Airport Training Center, 1126 Airport Road, Minden.
More and more often, teachers are footing the bill for their own classrooms as funding to schools are cut across the country.
A total of $1.6 billion in school supplies was bought by teachers for their classrooms in 2016.
Across the board, Douglas County is doing very well in education, despite the fact that Nevada ranks in the bottom for education in the country.
Douglas County has a drop out rate of 7 percent, which is about 90 students out of the approximate 1,300 students attending Douglas High School.
The U.S. graduation rate average was at 83 percent as of 2015, and Nevada as a whole was only 71 percent, besting only New Mexico and Washington, D.C., both at 69 percent.
A total of 96 percent of Douglas County teenagers attend public school.
Lilly says Douglas High School attracts an excellent staff of dedicated, expert staff with lots of experience.
“While we may not be compensated enough monetarily, even after taking on more work loads and increasing training levels, the draw of a higher quality of life living in the Sierra mountains, as well as a good community to raise kids in — which is important for teachers — attracts great teachers, and keeps them teaching here,” Lilly said. “Statistically, the attitude of teachers matters in the classroom when it comes to kids being successful. This school is full of dedicated, smart, dynamic instructors, who constantly work on their methodology on how to better communicate and get through to kids, even when these kids act like they don’t care and make you want to bash your head against a wall.”
Douglas County is home to three four-star schools, according to the state, including Carson Valley Middle, Piñon Hills and Gardnerville elementary schools.
The rest of the district’s rated schools achieved three-star ratings, according to the state.
Douglas High School graduation is June 7.