District moving in positive direction, superintendent says
The past year has seen some accomplishments for the Carson City School District, Superintendent Richard Stokes told board members Tuesday in his annual State of the District address.
“For me, personally, this has probably been the most challenging but rewarding professional years of my career,” he said. “I thank all of our colleagues who are working so strenuously to do what they do.”
Stokes said the catalysts for much of the change has come from the $10 million Race to the Top grant and the district’s strategic plan developed in cooperation with the public.
“A lot of what we’re doing now would not be anywhere near what it is without Race to the Top,” he said. “We are confident the model is going to pay off big dividends for the school district.”
Stokes also credited the partnerships formed with the community and local businesses through the strategic plan.
“Schools cannot do it themselves,” he said. “They have to reach out. There is great value in having the support of the community.”
Some of the highlights have been the beginning of the implementation of the one-to-one mobile device initiative, where every middle school student received his or her own laptop. The rollout is expected to continue next year, delivering mobile devices to elementary and high school students.
Stokes also reviewed the district statistics, such as enrollment and demographics. This year, 7,525 students were counted, down slightly from 7,545 last year.
Whites make up 51.2 percent of the student population, with Hispanics at 40.8 percent and Native Americans comprising 2.3 percent.
“It’s also a pretty good representation of the folks we have living in town, in terms of ethnicity,” Stokes explained.
More than 54 percent of students in the district qualify for free or reduced school lunch, a number that has continued to grow over the past few years.
“Over half of our children are living under that federal poverty line,” Stokes said. “That’s a significant situation.”
The graduation rate has dropped from 90.5 percent in 2009 to 75.87 percent in 2013. While it is partly due to a change in the formula to calculate the rate in 2012, Stokes said it is a high priority for the district.
“This is a number we are highly aware of,” he said. “There’s been a number of really good processes that have evolved as a result of discussions on how to better that. We are not going to let students fail.”
Suspensions as a result of violence to other students dropped from 31 in 2010 to 10 last year. Stokes credits anti-bullying legislation and programs in the schools.
He also pointed out that the school district received $6,537 per pupil from the state this year, as compared to $5,566 in 2012.
“It’s very helpful to have a governor who really appreciates and sustains education,” Stokes said.