Carson City Board of Supervisors hear update from school officials
The Carson City Board of Supervisors and School Board met Thursday night to discuss the partnership between the schools and the community.
The joint meeting is held every year to update the city on what’s going on in the schools to create a better relationship between the two.
“Education is the core of our democracy,” said Mayor Bob Crowell.
One of the big discussions involved the School Resource Officer partnership with the Sheriff’s Office and school district. The program is partially grant funded to provide the district with three officers to be integrated in the schools.
The program is entering its fourth year and Sheriff Ken Furlong said it is maturing and efficient.
“This is a whole lot more than people think, it is major entities that have a major impact,” Furlong said. “It is an example of how our community works together to address a challenge. We want to make sure we are keeping our programs accountable for achieving its goals and we are proud of it. I think it’s functioning and maturing very, very well.”
Each middle and high school is assigned an officer, with D.A.R.E instructor Deputy Lisa Davis assigned to the elementary schools.
Furlong, along with deputies Jarrod Adams and Lizzeth Lopez, shared with the boards the impacts they see in the schools with them there. They explained that most days they go to the schools and build rapport with the students as well as address some disciplinary issues that may arise.
“My favorite part of the job is the rapport,” said Adams. “I will have kids call me by my first name and I’ll talk to them in school and later they will come up to me when they are having issues because I was able to socialize with them. If I’m at the supermarket with my wife and they see me their faces light up and I get swarmed.”
“I love getting to hang out with the kids,” Lopez added. “They are always amazed to see we are normal people too. We can be counselors and mentors to them.”
School board members had nothing but good things to say about the program, stating students have told them how approachable and nice the officers are.
The boards also heard an informational presentation on the Gifted and Talented program.
Valerie Dockery, director of the program, updated the boards on the evolution of the GATE program and the necessity of having it for the students.
“Fair doesn’t mean every student gets the same thing, fair means every student gets what they need to be successful,” Dockery said.
The GATE program is for third to 12th graders who display exceptional abilities and are given advanced opportunities for learning.
“We want to identify students with exceptional academic skills, provide support and challenging learning opportunities and nurture academic, social and emotional support,” Dockery said.
Since the program’s creation in 2014, GATE has been implemented in all schools, refined the identification process and program and pilot the Young Scholars program to start identifying kids while in the second grade.
Dockery explained to the board the process of how the identification process works and what criteria qualified a student for the program, as well as identify the difference between a gifted student and a high achieving student.
The program has also been expanding, from 693 students in the 2013/2014 school year to 869 this past year.
They are most proud of their numbers for English learner students involved.
Dockery said the goal is to continue to support the GATE-certified teachers, expand the Young Scholars program to the first grade, participate in more competitions and clubs, include enrichment opportunities and repeat surveys and focus groups to parents and students.
The board members were excited that these students were being recognized.
“I have been on this earth for three quarters of a century and this is the first time I have seen anyone speak up for the gifted students,” said John Barrette. “This is a group our country has left behind and not for economic reasons.”
Tasha Fuson, principal at Carson High School, also updated the board on the school’s college ready programs with the expansion of the Advanced Placement program and the Jumpstart program.
In 2015, the school offered 11 AP classes, now they have added five classes in the last two years and are planning on adding four more courses by 2020. The class of 2020 will also be the first to be eligible to achieve an AP diploma.
The AP program has also seen a growth in its student numbers, from 369 in 2014 to 570 in 2017. Fuson also told the board that Carson High students scored a three or higher on the AP tests, significantly outperforming the state and national numbers. The district had 75 percent with a three or higher while only 52 percent of Nevada students and 63 percent nationwide achieved the same score.
The district also achieved its fourth year in its Jumpstart program. That program has also seen growth from 23 students in its first year to 89 students the past year.
The Jumpstart program is for high school juniors and seniors to take credits at Western Nevada College during high school.
“Our Jumpstart kids have a higher pass rate than WNC’s traditional students,” Fuson said. “What is significant is that we have had an increase in both our dual credit and our AP programs. We were in fear that an increase in one would kill the other but both have grown exceptionally.”
Currently, CHS has 18 seniors on track to graduate with an Associate’s Degree before they graduate high school.
“It is pretty impressive what our students are achieving, we are very proud,” Fuson said.
Fuson also spoke about the district’s new mandate to require all juniors to take the ACT to attempt to raise students’ scores for college.
“The ACT is not our proudest point, but we are working on it,” Fuson said.
Fuson explained they are even with the state’s average scores but not quite at the national level.
She explained that the ACT matters for scholarships, college course placement as well as school choice.
“I want to compliment you for raising the bar and for what you are doing,” said Karen Abowd.
Fuson said they hope it gets students excited about college and about the test.
“There are so many opportunities for students,” Fuson said. “With CTE paths who don’t need a traditional college but are highly skilled so we can try and match their passions. The goal is: what is their passion and how can we mesh those things?”