Don Carine: Caring about education should start at home

Trustee Don Carine is honored Dec. 13 by Carson City School Board President Richard Varner and Superintendent Andrew Feuling for his service as a school board member.

Trustee Don Carine is honored Dec. 13 by Carson City School Board President Richard Varner and Superintendent Andrew Feuling for his service as a school board member.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.

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We moved to Carson City from the Midwest in the summer of 2006. My parents were heavily involved in my sisters’ and my childhood activities and did whatever they could to make experiences better for all the kids. My mom was a PTA president and Scout leader. Dad coached athletics and was on our local school board for many years. I thought that was a wonderful way to grow up and my wife came from a similar experience. Her parents both taught in the public schools.

At the start of school experience in Carson City at Seeliger Elementary School, we made it a point to get involved. We didn’t know anyone in Carson City, and our volunteering became one of the ways we could meet people. We met many people who cared deeply for this community and have since made many wonderful friendships thanks to our involvement with the schools.

Today, the child that started in CCSD as a third grader is working on a Ph.D., and the second, who came as a 2-year-old, is a freshman at the University of Nevada. This would not have been possible without the excellent education they received from the Carson City School District. We raised our children knowing the importance of education and that their future success depends on taking it seriously. When I talk to teachers, one of their biggest frustrations is that many kids don't seem to care.

They are missing that expectation from parents and guardians that schoolwork is their “job” and they should be putting forth their best efforts in school. Parents and guardians are critical in pushing that expectation and finding ways to continue to engage, motivate and support their children in school. Without parent involvement, the educational system is like a three-legged stool that is missing a leg – it is unbalanced. Caring about education needs to start at home. Parent involvement shows kids that you take education seriously and they should, too. Whether their desire is for a technical career, military or anything else, children need to be able to read, write, do basic math, understand history and the like.

Our educational system can create well-rounded individuals, but we all need to buy into the importance of educating our children as a priority to have citizens capable of continuing a democratic government. Education is the way out of poverty for some. My parents were not able to go to college, but they wanted to give that opportunity to my siblings and me. They insisted we take school seriously and put forth a solid effort. My siblings and I were all able to complete college degrees because of my parents’ love and the motivation they provided to all of us about being present and being serious about our schooling.

Being on the school board was not really an aspiration but rather an extension of my previous volunteerism. I was fortunate to be appointed to the school board six years ago. I’ve appreciated the opportunity and the friendships and have learned an incredible amount about the effort that it takes to run a successful school district (financially engaging the community, supporting and motivating staff and recognizing and supporting students). We’ve been very lucky in Carson City to have had excellent school leadership in our previous and current superintendents Richard Stokes and A.J. Feuling and CCSD leadership. I’m really excited about our new superintendent. Feuling brings incredible expertise and financial savvy, he shares Richard’s selflessness and calm demeanor and his own children are attending school in Carson City, so he has a vested interest in the success of our schools and the community they serve. I truly hope he will continue to be supported by this community because he has earned the opportunity to lead the school district.

Being a trustee is not the same as being a parent volunteer. I have learned about how we finance, discipline, maintain buildings and grounds, how we work to being in funding through grants and the cost of managing those, how we write and enforce policies and all the regulation that we must manage through those activities. The CCSD leadership have been thoughtful in findings ways to engage our community, through the creation and continuous review of our strategic plan, by partnering with the city leadership through joint meetings with the city supervisors and our local law enforcement community. I have had the opportunity to meet many other schools’ board members from across the state and I can share that we are indeed fortunate in Carson City to have a board and school district leadership that is open, transparent and always putting the education of our children as our first priority. We could be easily distracted with all the political narratives running, but I am incredibly proud that our board has and continues to make the education of our students and the support of our educators our main focus. I am hopeful that future trustees have this in mind when they run for a school board seat. The school board has the critically important mission of educating our children and anyone running for a trustee position should have this as their focus. It should not be about anything else. With my youngest now out of the CCSD, I felt the time was right to pass this role to another.

We have an incredible staff of amazing teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, nurses, administrators, janitors, bus drivers, nutrition personnel, maintenance personnel and many others – all working to manage the business of educating our children in clean, safe and healthy environments. As a parent, it's easy to get upset or angry about a single event but not have the perspective that this staff is managing hundreds of children with different personalities, moods and needs.

They are genuinely doing their best to attend to the needs of all these children simultaneously. I would encourage parents to take a step back and put themselves in the shoes of those administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, administrative assistants, etc. Are you willing to be that person managing that situation? Children often model the example of their parents. Are you sending your children to school with the best chance of success? Can you be doing more? Can you find time to volunteer? Are you doing your part as the parent or guardian to make school the priority for your children? Are you providing the motivation for your child's success?

I’ve enjoyed the work of the school board. Our trustees come from different backgrounds and different political viewpoints, but we all hold the education of our children as the focus. Not every decision is easy and not everyone will be happy about decisions we make. We all know more money would make the job easier, but in the end, we push for forward movement. We as a community have yet to fully understand and support the cost of this education, and the impact of not doing our best to prioritize education. There is a cost to that, to having people remain in poverty and not be able to afford housing or food or safety. Without proper school funding, our children in poverty (many that struggle with less support at home) and those special needs require more support and that costs more money. Some students simply need more resources to be successful and that costs money. We are about to head into another legislative session, and I hope our elected officials think about the consequences of unfunded mandates, requirements the state will mandate without giving schools the funding to implement. Without proper school funding it will be difficult to staff schools properly, to pay staff a reasonable wage and to educate our children as they will need to be in order to be successful in life.

Thanks for your interest and your questions. I have appreciated the opportunity to work with you and know your representation of what happens in CCSD is critical to the success of our community. I wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and 2023!

Don Carine was appointed to serve in the District 6 seat of the Carson City School District Board of Trustees in 2016.


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