The Carson City School District was a point of highlight at the Nevada Association of School Boards’ annual conference in Reno the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. The school district and trustees hauled in four out of 19 of the awards among the 17 districts statewide. Additionally, two Carson City School Board trustees were recognized for their service and achievements in their roles as NASB elected officers.
Once a year, NASB recognizes the achievements and contributions of school boards, school trustees, teachers, administrators, educational advocates and others from across the state of Nevada. Additionally, the association elected new officers for 2019-20.
The Carson City School Board of Trustees was honored as the state of Nevada’s School Board of the Year, Trustee Stacie Wilke-McCulloch was named the state’s Individual School Board Member of the Year, Trustee Mike Walker was recognized as the state’s New School Board Member of the Year, and Andrew Feuling, director of fiscal services for the Carson City School District, and Paul Johnson, White Pine County School District chief financial officer, were jointly honored with the District Level Administrator Impacting Student Achievement award.
The School Board of the Year award recognizes the consistent use and development of skills and programs focused on board-superintendent cooperation and teamwork to improve student achievement. In particular, the cooperation and trust between the school board and Superintendent Richard Stokes during the past 11 years was noted in the award application, which enabled Carson City School District to implement a learner-centered instruction practice district-wide that has improved student achievement.
Board members include Joe Cacioppo, clerk Donald Carine, Laurel Crossman, Lupe Ramirez, Richard Varner, vice president Mike Walker and president Stacie Wilke-McCulloch. According to the award application, the trustees enjoy a collegial working relationship with each other, staff, students, parents and community leaders. The trustees also are viewed by the community as a unified body working in the best interest of students. Staff, parents and community members feel included, heard and appreciated.
The Individual School Board Member of the Year award recognizes the consistent use and development of effective boardsmanship skills and acknowledges productive involvement in raising the level of community support for schools and the promotion of leadership and successful practices, which improve student achievement while advancing the course of public education in the community, the district or the state.
Wilke-McCulloch is the current school board president and previously served as president in 2014. As a trustee and board officer, she brings a wealth of school board experience. She served on the board previously from 1999 through 2003 and her current tenure began in 2008. According to the award application, she is invaluable to the board with her broad vision. Her connection to the community from being a local business owner brings her perspective and insights that she freely shares for the benefit of all. In addition, with a number of new trustees, her previous board experience is highly valued in mentoring new board members on process, historical practice and expertise from serving and learning as she has worked on multiple local committees. Her active participation in NASB leadership brings valuable insights from the work of other boards from across the state.
The New School Board Member of the Year award recognizes the dedicated service of Nevada’s newest school trustees. Walker, vice president of the school board, is dedicated to public education and the Carson City School District. He is a veteran elementary school teacher, a former dean at Carson Middle School, a former assistant principal at Fritsch Elementary School and worked at the Nevada Department of Education as the Title I state coordinator for education for Homeless Children and Youth. He recently was hired as the new principal at Sutro Elementary School in neighboring Lyon County. According to the award application, he brings a fresh view to the board from his experiences in the district. Walker also has served for the last four years as president of the board of the local nonprofit Food for Thought, an organization that provides nutritious meals to school-aged children over the weekend through backpacks and a summer meals program.
The District Level Administrator Impacting Student Achievement award category recognizes the invaluable service provided to Nevada’s children by professional school administrators who work at the district office and who impact learning and achievement. With the uncertainty of what the new Nevada K-12 school funding formula (as created by Senate Bill 543 in the 2019 legislative session) would bring, Feuling and Johnson played an instrumental role working with state legislators and Department of Education officials in the initial development of a new education funding mechanism.
According to the award application, their work started during the interim legislative meetings with the education committee. After the 2018 Augenblick, Palaich and Associates Nevada School Finance Study was released, they tried to educate lawmakers about the Nevada Plan and how it needed to be changed in order to achieve what the study had recommended. They attended meetings, sent emails, answered questions and met with staff. They created simulation spreadsheet models to figure out potential outcomes for all Nevada school districts.
They spent countless hours going to, listening and testifying at legislative education committee hearings, even the one during which the new funding formula passed, which continued until midnight. They were welcomed by and worked with the chief financial officers in other districts and were actively asking questions of the state education department or legislators on the new funding formula. Additionally, Feuling and Johnson were named as members to the Governor’s Commission on School Funding to analyze and make recommendations to lawmakers for modifications to the new funding mechanism in preparation for its implementation in the 2021-22 school year.
To close out the evening, the association elected four new officers for 2019-20, including Bridget Peterson, Lyon County School District, as president; Laurel Crossman, Carson City School District, president elect; Kathryn Whitaker, Churchill County School District, vice president; and Nicole Bengochea, Humboldt County School District, legislative chair.