Churchill County School District considers budget priorities
The Churchill County School District Board of Trustees met Wednesday to continue discussion of what to add to the 2017-2018 budget.
Dr. Sandra Sheldon, superintendent of schools, said her top two priorities for the district are staff raises and putting 7-10 percent back into school site budgets. The trustees discussed their priorities as well, mirroring Sheldon’s, but further brainstorming occurred on what should be the budget’s next primary items.
Trustee Clay Hendrix liked the idea of allocating $5,000 for additional groundskeeping given weather this year and keeping up property standards; the board agreed. Sheldon also pointed out funding for additional bus routes can be a flexible expenditure.
“Those are two pieces we can do,” Sheldon said with the board agreeing. “They’re not going to supersede anything else.”
The trustees continued to discuss dean of student positions at the middle school and high school as well as an additional high school counselor. They also touched on a music aid and an English language learner instructor.
Trustee Matt Hyde noted he doesn’t want the district to return to where it was before the budget became solvent. He added a dean at the middle school providing discipline would curtail poor behavior at a younger age. The trustees conversed about administrator and teacher responsibilities; some were torn about how to prioritize between the deans and counselor.
Churchill County High School Principal Kevin Lords said his priority would be a counselor given the current school population — to better address the academic and personal issues that surface for students.
“My job would actually be easier if we had a dean,” he admitted, adding he thought that wouldn’t be as effective though.
Also during the meeting, the board recognized the high school girls’ basketball team for winning the Nevada 3A state championship as well as coach Anne Smith for being selected as the Nevada 3A girls’ basketball coach of the year.
Trustee Phil Pinder presented individual awards to the student athletes. He also recognized the community for its support in the stands as well as financially, families for their sacrifices during the long season as well as teachers, coaches and the athletic director.
“This is more than a state championship — it’s a program, it’s a great program,” said Pinder, who has been involved with it for five years. “We’ve given a lot to these student athletes, and in return they’ve given us quite a bit of satisfaction and appreciation.”
Trustee Tricia Strasdin commended coach Smith.
“I can tell you that she’s truly an asset to our district,” Strasdin said, “I could go on about her qualities as a friend, as a teacher and a mother, but we’re here to recognize her accomplishments as a coach.”
Strasdin added she witnessed how Smith would consciously put her ego aside to consider information that could benefit the team as well as lose sleep to consider strategies and the well-being of every girl.
“A good coach can change a game; a great coach can change a life,” Strasdin said.
Pinder asked senior Zoey Swisher what she received from the program as well as what she gave.
“This program has given me people in my life that I’ll never forget,” Swisher said. “Friendships that will last forever and life skills that will continue beyond.”
As for what she gave, she said “a lot of sass,” at which her fellow players laughed.
Regarding the district’s 2017 bond-refunding resolution, Business Services Director Phyllys Dowd, reported interest rates have risen outside the ideal range.
“That pretty much ate way all the savings we would receive by doing the refunding at this point,” she said, adding the topic could be readdressed in a few months — and costs incurred thus far with consulting and legal fees are less than $200.
Fifth-grade teacher Michelle Austin gave a public comment about the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) tests students are doing presently. She explained how the process is estimated at being 13 hours of testing for 10- and 11-year-olds. The teacher added she finds the SBAC unimportant and “not particularly helpful” for educators.
Special education teacher Becky Matthews also gave a public comment encouraging the board to participate in the upcoming district variety show happening March 30 at 4 p.m. in the Old High School auditorium (“The Pit”), with snacks provided by all sites.
In closed session, the board discussed negotiations and strategies regarding the Churchill County Administrators’ Association, Churchill County Education Association, and the Nevada Classified School Employees Association.
The next board meeting will be April 26 at 6 p.m. in the “The Pit.”