*Candidate responses were not modified or altered.
Q1. What are your top 2 priorities for the Washoe County School District?
Q2. How would you increase the resources needed for our students and teachers to be successful?
Q3. How would you ensure that all of our students and teachers learn and work in a safe school environment?
Q4. How would you ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment for marginalized communities, such as people of color and religious minorities, in our schools?
A1. Improve failing system & fiscal responsibility. Did you know that from 2007 to now our ACT scores fell from 22 to under 18? 22 will get you into many universities such as UNR, 18 won’t! Most grads can’t get into TMCC! It will get you into McDonalds!
Fiscal Responsibility! Did you know the cost of a high school skyrocketed from $36 million in 2003 to a proposed $110 in 2016 to $252.7++ for Hugg High? And WCSD drags its feet on doing an audit to see why. Too much money also spend on so many lawsuits that could have been prevented. Did you know that WCSD has a billion dollar budget? We need leadership! I’m a retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel and retired Reno Police Sergeants. I’m simply the best candidate for needed change. I’m a problem solver but also welcome negotiation.
A2. I am a proven leader & problem solver, the only one on the ballot! I have a plan to shift resources from building too many schools to hiring & retaining teachers and staff. I taught Recruiting nationwide and we need to “think outside the box” to support our teachers. Enrollment is flat and in a recession would decrease. I have a win-win plan. Watch Dog Jeff is looking out for you. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results! Re-electing incumbents is insanity! Did you know we built 3 new schools without any money for new teachers? I have a specific plan for ESL- I’m a Spanish speaker- I understand the issues. Now here’s perhaps the #1 issue for failure: many students face homelessness, lack of parental oversight, families suffering from drug issues, and now unemployment. WCSD can’t ignore what happens after school and weekends! Think outside the box! Help our at risk kids! I ran a 501c3 homeless center as board president, saw it!
A3. I’m a retired Reno Police Sergeant and USAF Intelligence Officer! Who better qualified. The State School safety Task force had many good ideas, especially in watching the warning signs. But when things go bad we need a better plan. Technology, safe area, a multi prong approach. But also we need to support our teachers from abusive students. Get tough. Behave or get out. Teachers can’t teach in fear. Ignoring students who act out is like ignoring early signs of cancer.
A4. This may be a surprise but overall, WCSD does a good job here. Equal rights, open discussion, no hate, fairness! But regardless of who they are, disadvantaged At-Risk kids need attention and the parents need to be prodded to be parents. That part WCSD needs to improve on. Likewise I want to address (I’ll say it again) “think outside the box” approaches to help students that lack English language skills. Again my leadership background: Nationwide instructor on Recruiting, Retired police leader and Air Force Officer, Two College Degrees (Southwestern College with honors), multiple police & military classes on Leadership, Active Shooter, Air Command & Staff College, etc.
A1. My first priority is to increase our students, staff, and educators’ access to mental health. This leads to my second priority diversity, inclusion, and equity districtwide. The fair and respectful treatment of all people, recognizing and respecting everyone’s unique qualities and attributes so that every person feels that they are respected, accepted, and valued.
A2. When teachers have a culture of support their student’s success increases. Give teachers and staff a voice in the plan for the school year. Support professional development. Encourage each school to establish, if they haven’t already, a teacher induction program that would create a network of support and promote unity.
A3. A safe school environment includes diversity, inclusion, and equity at its foundation. A safe school is one where expectations for behavior are clearly communicated and consequences for infractions are consistently and fairly applied. Every student has a right to education without distraction or fear. Every teacher needs to feel that they are supported as a professional. Safety includes respect to one’s self, respect to others, respect of property, and respect of Earth.
A4. People of color and religious minorities make education sing. Incorporating diversity, inclusion, and equity in all aspect of education promotes inclusive and safe environments.
A1. 1. Bridging the Disconnect – Now more than ever, the school board needs a leader who can bridge the disconnect between our schools, our students, and our school board. I will work day and night to making this vision a reality.
2. Putting Students First – We need a trustee that has a deep understanding of students’ needs in the 21st century. And now, with an unlikely economic future, we need someone who knows what individual budget cuts affect students. I’ll bring student-focused decision making to the board as well as my first-hand experience as a recent graduate.
A2. This pandemic has left the future of our budget uncertain. Cuts are more than likely. I can promise you this; I won’t just work hard, I will fight hard to make sure cuts have a minimal impact on our schools.
We must look at cutting administrative costs first.
My goal will be to ensure our kids don’t see or feel these cuts because that’s who we are here for – the next generation of leaders.
However, there are still some resources I believe we do need to increase, especially amid this pandemic: students’ mental health – which I talk more about in the next question.
A3. School safety is personal to me. I know what it’s like when the fire alarm goes off, and the creeping feeling of fear a student feels. That feeling that their school is just going to be another name on a long list of school shootings this year.
We’re missing a significant aspect of school shootings – students. The vast majority of school shootings are done by current students. Meaning that first-point-entry-ways and school fencing isn’t going to make a significant impact if the assailant is already inside the building.
School safety is a two-part issue – School Security AND Student Mental Health. I believe we ought to heavily invest in students’ mental health as it is the gateway to school shootings. We can do that by providing more school psychologists to our schools. Ensuring that our kids are mentally healthy will have lasting effects.
A4. Something that is barely addressed in our community is the vast disproportion of suspension of black students. As a Trustee, I’d aim to do the following:
1. Reach out to parents and our PTO’s and ask for their opinion on how to build a more welcoming and inclusive WCSD.
2. Equip our school administrators with the tools to educate and talk about the disproportionality of discipline and how educators can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.
3. Reach out to organizations that champion people of color and religious minorities and ask for guidance.
4. Recruit educators from marginalized communities and make our schools reflect our students.
A1. 1. Prevent teacher burn out. That’s why I retired after 22 years with WCSD. I wish I hadn’t, but, at the time, I had enough! Teachers need to be able to control their classrooms with support from Admin and parents so they can do their job, which is to educate students in a positive and academic environment. That’s common sense! Too many are leaving the profession because of a lack of support. This also includes support staff, such as teacher aides, bus drivers, nurses, office staff, and custodians. The foundation for success starts in the home first. Schools build upon that important foundation to ensure success for each student.
2. Students and parents should have a choice in their education. If a student is not thriving, then please let them explore an alternative setting, be it trade schools, home schooling, or private schools. Do what is best for the student. We all want students to be successful.
A2. Responsible use of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars. We are top heavy with Admin and Central Office personnel who, in some cases, make more than twice that of a teacher, yet do not work with students all day. Maybe some District jobs that overlap or do not qualify as a full-time position should be re-evaluated. Let’s trim the fat and put the money where it is the most beneficial, and that’s educating students with the tools they need. Control the construction costs on new school buildings and repairs of existing facilities. I would be in favor of having developers pay impact fees. It’s time!
A3. We need some students and some parents to understand that respect gets respect. The Golden Rule applies in the school setting: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Also, I want to emphasis that we have wonderful School Police. But not every school has an officer on the premises. That being said, if there is an eminent threat, milliseconds count and we might want to broach the subject of having trained personnel, retired police, or qualified military veterans posted at schools. These positions must be highly vetted, of course. We should not tolerate any student or school personnel being in danger at school. That is common sense.
A4. I believe it is already happening, and, like anything, there is always room for improvement. All children should be treated equally and never judged by the color of their skin, financial status, or their beliefs.
As a Music Educator, I respected the fact that some of my students, due to their beliefs, could not sing certain songs or participate in concerts as they were considered celebrations. We would even discuss this in class and the students were so accepting and showed respect for these students. It all boils down to respect and tolerance. Children need to be taught this, and students are being taught this in WCSD. That is good for our school environment and our community.
Scott Kelley (Incumbent)
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