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Reno high school looking to engage students through outdoor learning

Plus: Proposed board policy may limit new Clark County trustees’ power, and Washoe County schools superintendent is on medical leave.
Rocio Hernandez
Rocio Hernandez
EducationK-12 Education
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Good morning, and welcome to the Indy Education newsletter. I’m Rocio Hernandez, The Nevada Independent’s K-12 education reporter. 

This newsletter provides a recap of the latest education stories and highlights interesting educators, students, programs and other events and resources throughout the state. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter and receive it each Tuesday via email.

I want to hear from you! Send questions, comments or suggestions on what I should be covering to [email protected]

Washoe County School District Superintendent Susan Enfield during a school board meeting on Nov. 22, 2022, in Reno. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

News briefs

💼 Washoe County School District superintendent on medical leave  — The outgoing Washoe County Superintendent Susan Enfield is on medical leave through her last day, Feb. 9, according to a Jan. 8 letter sent to district leaders by Interim Superintendent Kristan McNeill. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported on Enfield’s status last Tuesday, the first day the school district resumed classes after winter break. 

Enfield announced in November that she would be resigning from the district less than two years after she was hired so she could spend more time with her family and pursue opportunities in Washington state where she previously worked. Enfield had previously indicated that she would be leaving the position sooner, and had said she didn’t intend to be a “lame duck” superintendent in her final week. 

The Washoe County School Board voted Dec. 12 to rehire McNeill, who had been the superintendent prior to Enfield. 

🎤 Policy change proposal would remove Clark County nonvoting school board trustees’ ability to make motions — The Clark County School Board is proposing a policy change that would limit the ability to make motions during meetings and request reconsideration of prior board decisions to only voting trustees. The proposal, included in the board’s consent agenda for its Jan. 11 meeting, comes about a week after four appointed, nonvoting trustees joined the board as required by a 2023 bill, AB175. The bill’s sponsors, Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray Axelrod (D-Las Vegas) and Assemblyman Toby Yurek (R-Henderson), said in a written statement that the proposed change would “dramatically curtail the ability of appointed non-voting members to place items on the Board agenda,” and runs against the legislative intent of the bill. Under the bill, outside of voting rights, the appointed trustees were expected to have the same rights and responsibilities as those members who were elected.

🏫 Douglas County School Board selects new trustee — Douglas County School Board voted last Tuesday to appoint Yvonne Wagstaff, a mother of three Douglas High School graduates and three current district student, to the board. Wagstaff is replacing former Trustee Tony Magnotta who resigned last month. He said in his resignation letter he felt his vote and voice haven’t been taken seriously, and he’s faced harassment and threats while on the board. Board President Susan Jansen said no one on the board harassed or intimated Magnotta, though Magnotta said “she’s a freaking liar.”

Galena High School (Washoe County School District/Courtesy)

South Reno high school developing academy to take learning outdoors

Galena High School is developing a new program that will take student learning into outdoor mountain spaces. 

Principal Jay Salter said the Outdoor Academy will focus on project-based learning where students get to apply their learning in the real world. It’s a collaboration between a variety of education groups including UNR and Truckee Meadows Community College as well as Sky Tavern Ski Resort, which is offering Galena a space where it can build a satellite campus to bring this vision to life. 

Salter said the academy is geared toward students who may not enjoy learning in a traditional classroom and are passionate about outdoor activities or are interested in careers related to the outdoors. 

“So it's really designed around what kids want to do and how do we keep them engaged or even get them engaged,” Salter said. 

The courses that will be offered at the academy are still in the works, but Salter they could include courses related to geography, construction technology, hunter safety, wilderness first responder and wildland firefighting, some which would allow students to become certified. Salter also wants to provide students with opportunities where they can use the skills they are learning in their core classes, such as math and science, to projects such as a mountain bike trail building. 

“We're going to learn about the math that they need to be able to construct these, and the actual project will be right there at Sky Tavern” he said. 

Salter said the Outdoor Academy will be open to students who live within and outside of Galena’s school boundaries. He expects to be able to provide transportation for students from Galena to Sky Tavern. 

Have a student or staffer who we should feature in the next edition of School Spotlight? Share your nominations with me at [email protected].

Reading Assignments

Clark County teachers union files a petition to change law against strikes

The Clark County Education Association filed a petition Thursday that would change a state law that makes it illegal for teachers and other public employees to go on strike. 

School start time proposal hits roadblock with legislative legal division

The future of a proposed regulation on high school start times is unclear as the State Board of Education has yet to hear back on a draft of the proposal it sent to legislative attorneys about three months ago.

Teachers union gave to lawmakers in days after they rebuffed school district

In the days after a group of Democratic lawmakers delayed a decision to provide funds for raises to Clark County School District support staff, the school district’s teachers union made major campaign contributions to those same lawmakers, new reports show.

Jara speaks: Clark County superintendent defends district after lengthy teacher pay dispute 

Clark County Superintendent Jesus Jara said he’s undeterred by continued calls for his resignation by the district’s teachers union and top Democratic lawmakers, who say they’re disappointed that it took months for the school district and the union to finalize their contract negotiations.

Nevada receives $7.7 million for electric school buses

Nevada will receive $7.7 million in federal funding to purchase 25 electric school buses, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week.

Extra Credit

Nevada’s GOP caucuses, set for Feb. 8, have yet to win approval for use of CCSD schools

The Clark County Republican Party has yet to receive approval to host its presidential caucuses early next month at numerous public schools across the Las Vegas area, the Las Vegas Sun reported. 

Nevada, Pennsylvania researchers and teachers working on new science literacy tool

A team of researchers and teachers from Nevada and Pennsylvania are developing a new science literacy curriculum for English language learners, KUNR reported. 

Events           

🖍️ Las Vegas School Choice Fair — Saturday, Jan. 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 

The Nevada School Choice Coalition invites Las Vegas area families to learn about the various school choice options available in their community. The free event will be held at the IPEC Las Vegas event venue at 6590 Bermuda Road in Las Vegas. RVSP to reserve your spot. 

🦋 UNIFY Success Services meeting — Thursday, Jan. 18, 5:30-7:30 p.m. 

The Clark County School District’s UNIFY (Undocumented & Immigrant Family & Youth) Services invites community members to a meeting Thursday where they could learn about the programs and resources available. The event will be held at the district’s Family Support Center at 1720 S. Maryland Parkway. 

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These Reno students came back to school from winter break ready to learn!

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