PIC volunteers, AA graduates, teachers celebrated
The Churchill County School District Board of Trustees met last week to finalize the budget and its priorities pending funding as well as to review district technology.
Also, Educational Services Director Kimi Melendy reported K-5 summer school is available June 12-30 from 8:30 a.m.-noon. Melendy said their schools would contact students who need additional support.
For grades 6-7, credit recovery summer school is June 5-29 from noon-2 p.m. at Churchill County Middle School. For grades 8-12, summer school will also be June 5-29 — from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. — at Churchill County High School.
Trustee Clay Hendrix added high-school students in the Jump Start program should be reminded to enroll in summer school if interested in gaining extra honors credits. (Students should contact the counselor at the high school.)
Trustee Carmen Schank noted enrollment has risen by 38 students, the first increase in five years. Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon added not having to release teachers is even better.
Sheldon discussed Fallon’s Western Nevada College Jump Start graduates doing so well and coming up through CCSD. As the dual-enrollment initiator, the superintendent said she was present when Gov. Brian Sandoval signed legislation putting $2 million into the program allowing high-school students to take college courses for credit.
“I felt honored to be acknowledged,” she said.
Trustee Kathryn Whitaker added some students graduated with high honors and in the National Honor Society.
The fiscal year 2017-2018 final budget (contingent on anticipated funding) was approved including the priorities of staff salary increases, 7 percent site budget increases as well as dean positions at the high school and middle school.
Schank mentioned the new high-school vice principal is math and science coach Brenda Boone.
Oasis Online’s Dan Slentz, district IT director, reported on the district’s state of technology including 3,463 closed help tickets this school year, 14 open presently and a 12 percent increase in workload. He also went through survey results showing over 90 percent approval ratings related to attitude, response time, knowledge and resolutions — but looked at any percent change to address.
Slentz said “hats off” to Sheldon and the district for having vision and direction at the right time. He said when the state technology initiative started rolling out, CCSD was already on its way with Chromebooks and an infrastructure.
“She really was instrumental in making this vision come alive for us,” he said.
The director went over security measures his team does from content filters and trying to hack the system themselves to spotting any possible weaknesses or potential exploits; they also constantly monitor activity worldwide. He added he would be happy to discuss any concerns with anyone one-on-one.
Slentz shared how fraudulent messages have odd spacing and grammatical errors, indicating a bot. He advised having an antivirus system, updated computer and to change passwords often, as well as noted there are websites that can help people detect compromises.
He added the district has plenty of bandwidth thanks to upgrades in part by CC Communications. For example, testing last May at CCMS took eight weeks and this year only four days.
“This equates to more instruction time for those students,” he emphasized.
Slentz showed how much the G suite by Google Cloud has been used: 443,204 files uploaded in the last six months including documents, presentations and spreadsheets.
“So this stuff is getting used and used a lot,” he said.
Schank asked about data collection concerns, and Slentz explained how data has been collected since before the fifties as well as resulted in regulation. He gave the basic information-gathering example of Box Tops for Education to simply find out what cereal is being eaten where.
The board discussed how sharing education information can be used to help guide but not pigeonhole students.
Nate Waite, district technology coach, and Amy Word, CCMS principal, reported on the blended learning program including Chromebooks. The technology coach shared how Google apps and Chromebooks are exploding in American education as well as worldwide.
Waite discussed the big picture effort including the 21st century student and 21st century education, information access at both school and home, and how progress can’t go backward now but should move forward with the foundation laid.
The coach said the end of the school year turning in of Chromebooks “went great.”
“I hate to say it but it kind of exceeded my expectations,” he said smiling.
Out of 721 devices, four were missing but only one appears lost; a little over 30 need repair. The most common missing item was chargers, he said, due to being more mobile and easily borrowed — and 13 cases were missing at collection maybe relating to the damaged devices. Devices are under warranty but Waite said they work to train students on accountability.
The board recognized 2017 school district retiree Eileen Haugen, who helped grow the art department and expand the ceramics program; Trustee Carmen Schank posed some questions to Haugen about it, and she in turn discussed how art plays a key role in life.
“We’re drawn to how things look,” she said, mentioning iPhones and Coach handbags — adding she has seen a journalism student have to sketch thumbnails; website designers and video game developers need to have the physical drawing skill first to be marketable and better at their craft.
Haugen added test scores rise when STEAM is emphasized, the A (art) incorporated back into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
The board — along with Kimi Melendy, Educational Services director, and Kristin Sheldon, parent and community engagement coordinator — celebrated volunteer parent involvement coordinators Jennifer Blosser, Cyndi Lipnicki and Sheila Washington with kind words.
Kristin Sheldon said with a smile she was impressed by how well they handled her sometimes late-night last-minute requests due to a sudden need, and she showed a video of the many projects the group has worked on and presented gift baskets.
The board honored CCHS chemistry teacher Steve Johnson for being the VFW National Teacher of the Year.
“You’re a great example,” Hendrix said. “I don’t know how to put it in more words than that.”
Johnson said he loves the age group and teaching the interesting subject, and he emphasized we should all do more to honor service members for what they do to keep us free; he expressed his sincere thanks to them.
“I have not heard one student say anything, it’s always Mr. Johnson who is awesome,” the superintendent said. “Thank you very much.”
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 — also negotiations regarding contracts with the secretary to the superintendent/board of trustees and human resource analysts.
The next meeting will be June 14 at 6 p.m. in the Old High School auditorium (“The Pit”).