The Carson Middle School Parent Teacher Organization hosted a Bingo fundraising event on Feb. 2, with Superintendent Andrew Feuling making a special appearance to call out numbers.
Providing staff and volunteers to support educators in Carson City’s schools was top of mind from day one, Superintendent Andrew Feuling said.
He has not only hoped to maintain a sustainable system but wanted to embark on building a more efficient, cooperative one focused on helping students.
“But the vacancies are definitely the biggest challenge for the year, and I think it’s the one that is the most impactful to the year and the stress in the workload it puts on all of the people — that was a priority from day one, and it continues to be a priority,” Feuling said.
In the year Feuling has been superintendent, he has gleaned from his role a new respect for day-to-day K-12 operations. He instantly set to the task of meeting with staff members to understand what they needed for students, and he prepared to advocate for all of them before the Nevada Legislature. And there also was the transition to the post-pandemic era.
“I think you have to have some appreciation for some of the complexities,” he said. “It’s like a symphony and there are parts that are going at different times. The thing is, you can’t do it alone and you have to depend on all of these people. I think I knew that, but going up a level on the view of it, it’s pretty awe-inspiring with all of those people trying to make all of that work.”
One of his biggest highlights is more than 500 people have signed up to volunteer within the district, which he considers a big victory as it offers a baseline of support.
Some of Feuling’s favorite moments now that the school year is complete are more celebratory and typically mark key transitions for students, he said.
“Going to the promotion ceremonies for the middle schools and high school graduations, there’s just something about those moments and sometimes (families) are getting a little rowdy because they’re so excited for their kids,” Feuling said. “It’s so exciting to see their future ahead.”
But then, there was the Nevada Legislature. With the advantage of a school finance background as a former fiscal services director, “getting into the weeds” of the bills and the long-term impacts of some opportunities worked out differently than expected.
“I think the biggest win for us was definitely the increase in funding,” he said. “We thought we were going to be flat-funded still for the next two or three or four years and to come out of the session with a significant increase in funding, that is a complete 180 from where I thought we were going to be when it was all said and done. If there was a relief valve that needed to be pressed, that was it. That was a big win.”
CCSD added positions to its general fund and reduced its deficit after state funding had increased by 26.1% and the district’s portion was raised by 17.96%.
“You learn that a lot of things can happen last minute and changes can be made, and it’s just really out of your control and it’s past the point where you can testify,” Feuling said.
One key takeaway from the session concerned the success and failure of bills brought to Gov. Joe Lombardo’s desk. Senate Bill 340 would have required districts to provide plans for summer school to all grades during the 2023 and 2024 calendar years.
“I would love to have this huge, vibrant summer school enrichment and remediation program for schools that struggle in the regular school year, but it was a bill that got up to the governor and then he vetoed it,” Feuling said. “And it wasn’t that, I don’t think any school districts could say, ‘Oh, that wouldn’t be a good thing to be able to offer those opportunities to kids.’
“I think all of us would agree it would be fantastic to offer those opportunities to kids, but when the session ends in the first week of June and the way the bill is written, you’re supposed to be able to offer it immediately when the session ends and it’s just not realistic and I respect the governor’s decision.”
Feuling said moving forward, he still wants to help his district by making sure there are more hands helping the ones currently in place.
“(We should ask) what more do we want to do for kids and what are we doing, how are we evaluating and how can we continue doing them efficiently so that we don’t have people working in a manner that is ultimately unsustainable for them,” he said.
He added he has been overwhelmed by the level of support.
“It’s just the clear, common goal of doing right by our kids and giving them these great opportunities for the future,” he said. “I’m just so thankful for that. So if there was a big thank you I needed to put out there, that would be it. It’s definitely a strength of our community, and it’s something I will certainly be trying to grow in the next year.”