School trustee has seen many changes in decades of service

Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealNorm Scoggin, shown here at his west Carson City home, has seen many changes since he entered the Carson City School District as a student more than 60 years ago. Tuesday will be his last school board meeting after a dozen years on the board.

Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealNorm Scoggin, shown here at his west Carson City home, has seen many changes since he entered the Carson City School District as a student more than 60 years ago. Tuesday will be his last school board meeting after a dozen years on the board.

When the Carson City School Board meets this evening, it will be the first time in 12 years that Norm Scoggin won't be a member.

It will mark the first time in more than half a century that he will not be involved in some way with the school district. And, looking back, he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I've been very satisfied," he said. "I'd do it over again in a minute."

Scoggin saw vast changes in the school district from the time he started as a student in 1948 to the time he retired in 1991 as vice principal of Carson High School.

When he graduated from Carson High School in 1954, there were about 180 students and the building was at the site where Bordewich-Bray Elementary School now stands.

When he came back to teach at the high school - after three years in Yerington and one year at Carson Junior High - it had moved to what is now Carson Middle School.

Throughout the course of his career, he saw the high school make its final move in the 1970s to its current location. He retired this year from the school board with about 1,200 students enrolled in the high school.

Despite the tremendous growth he saw in students and school buildings, he said the biggest changes have been in content.

"The schools have gotten much more demanding of students and more complicated," he said. "There's never been a time in history when students learn so much in high school. The students who want an education and are willing to put fort the time and effort, can get a superior education."

He taught everything from history, government and social studies to English and even driver's education.

He coached junior varsity football and served as athletic director. He retired as the high school vice principal under Harvey Walker.

He says one of his proudest accomplishments was to create girls athletics in the Carson City School District.

"It was kind of a difficult chore," he recalled. "There was a lot of resistance, particularly from other schools, but we felt it was necessary here."

They started with golf and tennis at first and added more sports over the following years.

"Prior to that, girls could be a cheerleader and that was about it other than sitting in a chair in a classroom."

He was also integral in creating the high school education program in the prisons, adult education and the alternative high school, which evolved into the current Pioneer High School.

He said several factors contribute to a student leaving high school before graduation, from teen pregnancy to lack of focus to economic pressures and even incarceration.

"I don't like to look at them as dropouts," he said. "I see them as 'stop outs,' and we need to make sure when that student is ready to come back to school he or she can. There's many reasons why kids drop out of school. It's not all that the school's bad or they're bad."

He was elected to school board in 1998 and was re-elected to two additional four-year terms. During that time, he served in every position on the board, including twice as its president. He also served on the Nevada Association of School Boards, where he also served as president as well as every other office.

"The school board is not something you do for fun, but there's a lot of satisfaction in it," he said. "In Carson, we have done an excellent job of making the primary interest the betterment of students and the taxpayers. I've met an awful lot of good people and very dedicated people."

In preparation for these economic conditions, he said, the board worked with representatives from district staff to forgo raises some years to bank a significant rainy day fund.

"The Carson City School District may be the most financially stable political entity in the state of Nevada," he said. "We feel like we can weather the storm, even with all the cuts coming, for at least the next two to three years."

Term limits prohibited Scoggin, 74, from running again, and although he doesn't agree with the policy, he's ready to spend more time with his family and his hobbies.

From the Ash Canyon home he shares with his wife, Lee, a retired school teacher, he can easily access a network of trails on his ATV, his preferred method of exploring the state where his family settled in 1863.

"You can ride for 100 miles and not see a fence depending on where you go," he said. "It's a great place to live."

He also spends time in Austin, where his family owns a home that dates back to the 1860s. They also own a home in Lake Tahoe, where he and his wife will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this week with their two children and three grandchildren.

Their oldest son, Bret, 48, is a teacher and lives in Sparks. Coert, 46, is a pilot and lives in Maryland. A graduate of the Air Force Academy, Coert flew Air Force II for five years for then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

Scoggin said he also plans to continue golfing, hunting, fishing, boating and other outdoor activities.

Although he and Lee spent several years traveling the world after they retired, he said he'll likely stick closer to home now.

"At this point, I don't really get excited about sitting on a plane for 10 hours," he said. "If I never had to leave the state again, I'd probably be happy."

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