The Lincoln County school board held a special workshop June 17 to discuss various options to improve education for the county’s students, and to hear feedback from parents and other members of the community.
The meeting, originally scheduled for the previous week, was held at the Neldon C Mathews auditorium in Panaca. While the issues being discussed mostly are geared toward schools in the northern part of the county, the proposed changes could have an effect on education throughout the area.
The workshop, during which the board could not vote on any items since this was not a formal board meeting, opened with public comment. One of the first people to speak asserted that Summit Learning, the method that the district is trying to implement in county schools, is not a recognized curriculum within Nevada. Another person pointed out the lack of communication throughout this whole experience, claiming that there had been no accountability since the beginning.
“I don’t know where the ball was dropped,” said one of the commenters, “but the ball was dropped.”
On a somewhat comical note, a few of the people who had signed up to speak during the public comment section of the meeting had done so under the belief that they were signing an attendance roll. This led to a handful of people waiving their right to comment while explaining their confusion, which got a few chuckles.
A common theme in some of the comments was that the community and school administrators need to come together, and that there has to be an option that satisfies everyone and which can put an end to the negativity.
Next, Superintendent Pam Teel reiterated that closing the middle school was now off the table due to the public backlash. But, she said, the budget was bigger than expected this year, which could lead to more hires. Marty Soderborg, the Lincoln County High School principal, confirmed this, saying that the high school had enough to hire two more teachers, one full-time and one part-time.
As the board asked more questions about scheduling, middle school principal Cody Christensen said that even with all the planning that they have done, “We don’t know what this is really going to look like yet.”
Despite the remaining uncertainties, the two principals had a schedule that they were happy with that only required one more teacher. However, this would require sharing teachers between the two schools, and having teachers move from one school to another was completely voluntary. If a teacher chooses to stay where they are, this schedule may become more complicated and may need to be readjusted.
Teel also mentioned that the popular idea of moving the sixth graders up to the middle school was still an option, though not until 2020.
While some parents were satisfied with the district’s decisions, others were not.
“Everyone keeps saying that this isn’t about Summit,” one disgruntled parent said, “but it is.”