Washoe County School Board District D Candidate Surveys

KUNR Youth Media is an award-winning program that trains high school students to become radio reporters. As part of KUNR’s 2022 election coverage, our Spring 2022 cohort created a questionnaire for all candidates vying for a seat on the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees. This election cycle, there are three candidates vying for the District D school board seat:

Editor’s notes: Candidates were listed alphabetically by last name. We provided candidate responses to our questionnaire and each response had a 1,000 character limit. Responses have not been edited for spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Candidates’ responses have been checked and editor’s notes have been provided where necessary. Some candidates did not respond to the questionnaire after being contacted several times; however, we will post their responses if they become available. Applicants were also asked to submit a head shot and these photos were included as available.

Jeff Baclet

KUNR contacted this candidate by email and voicemail several times; however, we have not received a response. We will update this web posting with the answers to the candidate questionnaire if they become available.

Edgard Hitti

KUNR contacted this candidate by email and voicemail several times; however, we have not received a response. We will update this web posting with the answers to the candidate questionnaire if they become available.

Elizabeth “Beth” Smith

For one week per month, bus schedules are suspended for one area of ​​the school district, which has disrupted learning. Kesley, a student at Spanish Springs High School, says the buses at his school don’t run during AP tests and finals. What do you plan to do to remedy the shortage of personnel?

Beth Smith smiles for a head shot.  She is wearing a green blouse and the background is blurred.

Beth Smith is a candidate for the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees, District D.

My plan to address staffing shortages is to advocate for more funding in my role as an administrator and personally as a mother of a kindergarten and a Grade 5 student. Most people don’t know that Washoe County receives the least funding per student of any county in Nevada. We get less than Clark, less than Carson, less than everyone else. It’s because of the education funding formula, and I think it’s flawed. I bring attention to it every chance I get and support the district’s campaign to change it at the state level. I also shared ideas with the District Human Resources Manager on ways to respond to candidate feedback. One thing we hear is that people need benefits. So I came up with the idea of ​​combining the jobs so that a person driving a bus could also work in nutrition services or facilities during downtime from driving. This increases their weekly hours and entitles them to benefits, which they are asking for.

Editor’s note: Washoe County Receives $7,318 per in-state studentwhich is the lowest amount compared to other counties in Nevada.

Our youth media reporters have told us that the chronic use of substitute teachers disrupts their ability to learn. They are curious about what concrete steps you would take to recruit and retain teachers.

Our teachers do not earn a salary that represents their value to our children, our community and our county. The first step in recruiting and retaining teachers is to fight for funding at the state level, and I cover that in my answer above. And I will keep fighting until it happens. The second step is to recognize that teachers are burned out with large class sizes and too much administrative work, especially after the pandemic. This is what we control now. I have already advocated for our incoming Superintendent, Dr. Susan Enfield, to do a thorough audit of all paperwork, paperwork, etc. that allow teachers to work long after their contract hours. I constantly hear from teachers that this can be done more effectively and I advocate for their needs. For class sizes, we should address staffing our schools so that all teaching positions are filled before assigning roles for most special assignments, prioritizing the smallest class sizes possible.

We are seeing a mental health crisis in schools, which includes the risk of suicide, as well as violence. Nick from the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology (AACT) wonders what new methods of student support would you advocate?

Mental health is one of the most critical issues facing us as a community, and our schools are on the front lines of supporting children and staff who have experienced many traumas over the past two years. As a mom, this also matters to me personally. A new approach that I support is telehealth services for students in the Washoe County School District. Other school districts in Nevada and across the country have successfully hosted telehealth partners for mental health and physical health support. Telehealth for mental health has already arrived here and worked! Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve used part of the city’s pandemic recovery funding to pilot these services. About half of the people who used it had never seen a therapist before. This has the potential to bridge the gap between our students’ need for mental wellness support and the practitioners available to help them. It is important to note that in telehealth, parents always give their approval before students receive services.

Editor’s note: End of 2021, KRNV reported that about half of users of the City of Reno’s TalkSpace program to provide online therapy had not sought mental health care before.

Ellie, a student at AACT, says the student meals are of poor quality, with a lack of fruit, vegetables and protein. She said meals are “something adults would never eat”. What steps would you take to increase the amount of healthy food at school?

In fact, administrators eat food from the same central kitchen that prepares food for all of our schools. We eat it for dinner at long board meetings, we eat it when we visit schools. In total, millions of meals are prepared each year, and these are often the only meals our students eat. That said, I understand that food created and packaged on a large scale is different from what you cook at home or in a restaurant. Meals follow a balanced diet with fresh fruit always available as an option, but I appreciate your comments on how they can be better. The reality is that we do what our funding allows us, and we do our best with state and federal funding. That would be a great topic to bring to Student Voice, Ellie. Student Voice creates an opportunity to bring your ideas to district leaders so they can be considered in future decisions, which in this case are meal planning and options. You can also contact me personally.

Editor’s notes: According to a WCSD spokesperson, administrators prefer to use the central kitchen, but this has not happened this year as the catering service has been cut due to a nationwide staff shortage.

Additionally, WCSD Nutrition Services follows federal nutrition guidelines, which include low-fat dairy products, lean protein choices, several fruit and vegetable options, and cereals with more than 50% whole grain ingredients. Learn more about WCSD Nutrition Services here.

Learn more about Elizabeth Smith at www.votebethsmith.com.

Click here to view candidate polls for other Washoe County School District Board races.

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