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School officials speak with lawmakers

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer

In a meeting Thursday between school officials and local lawmakers preparing for the upcoming legislative session, the conversation turned to money.

Assemblyman Ron Knecht, R-Carson City, suggested that school officials look at better ways to spend existing funds during a round-table discussion at the Carson City School District office.

He cited a study that showed “very little correlation between spending and achievement,” and asked school board members to review it.

But Trustee Joanna Wilson said comparing dollars to test scores is “worse than apples and oranges.”

“It’s imperative we look at this in a way other than dollars,” she said. “I understand that’s your job, but we’re looking at the future here.”

School leaders met with Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City; Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington; and Knecht to open lines of communication for the upcoming session of the state Legislature.

Tom Badillo, principal of Carson Middle School, asked lawmakers to be cautious when considering additional standardized tests.

“It already takes a tremendous amount of time from classroom instruction,” Badillo said.

School board president John McKenna also discouraged a rumored proposal to switch testing companies.

“We like standardized tests that have been around for a while so we can compare and tell if we’re improving or going down,” he said. “Every time you change a test, we have to wait a good three years until we can really make a valid comparison.”

Although funding for the schools ultimately comes from the Legislature, Grady said school officials play an important role.

“It is our problem, but we need your support,” he said. “In the end, there is going to be a need for money. We need you guys to stand behind us in the decisions we make.”

Trustee Bob Crowell pledged the board’s support.

“If the goal is student achievement, measured across the spectrum of all students, and you decide in your wisdom how to fund that goal, then you have my support, 100 percent,” he said.