At the first meeting for the 2022-2023 school year, the Humboldt County School District Board of Trustees (with Vice President of the Board, Abe Swensen, absent):

•  Received an update regarding the increased standards for schools and staff to track and report bullying in school settings. The Board was able to analyze reports for the 2021-2022 school year, which showed that there were 20 total substantiated claims of bullying and 11 unsubstantiated claims from quarter one through three of the 21-22 school year. 

•  Reviewed the data and discussed information regarding the Math Project—which was built-in to classrooms to address the previous low numbers of students demonstrating math proficiencies by the time they reached high school. Teachers from different schools in the district explained the work that they have been doing to bridge the “gaps” in eureka math that were identified as causing breakdowns in students’ math skills. Currently, assessments have been created and “bridging-lessons” have been integrated to address the gaps in the education standards. Emotions were high as teachers discussed the true progress they have seen amongst their students. 

“People are being moved by the success they’ve had with the kids,” said Vice Superintendent Will Jensen.

• The trustees heard an update regarding changes enacted by Legislature for student discipline. The changes set disciplinary limitations that are not conducive to safety or teacher retention within schools. The Bill Draft, presented by Vice Superintendent Jensen, to be submitted to the Legislature, is intended to give options and flexibility to administrators in Nevada to determine the best interest of everyone involved in disciplinary instances. The requested changes to the original bill that will be submitted include: 

1. The separation of  battery of an employee from sale/distribution of a controlled substance 

2. Definition of acts of violence 

3. The creation of a new section that prohibits acts of violence against students and staff 

4. The allowance for out-of-school removal of any student of any age, including students with disabilities, who have committed an act of violence against another student or staff 

“What it came down to was student and staff safety being jeopardized by some of the law on the books and also some practicalities missing from the law. By that, I’m talking specifically about the ability for our licensed administrators to make decisions regarding removals, in benefit of all persons involved,” said Vice Superintendent Jensen. 

“Everyone has the right to be free from the violent acts of others,” the Draft states. 

• The trustees unanimously approved anticipated 2022-2023 state and federal grant application requests, presented by Superintendent Dr. Dave Jensen. Different types of grants and funding are available to the school district, but many of them require changes in methods that do not support current endeavors and instruction policy within schools. Dr. Jensen explained that if the grant requires unnecessary burden on staff or unjustified change, they do not pursue the money.

“We are very strategic and will continue to be, so that we only apply to areas that are going to support the work that we’ve already got in place,” said Superintendent Jensen. 

• The board reviewed the Class Size Reduction Application and Plan for the 2022-2023 School Year, which is required by the Nevada Department of Education to be submitted annually, despite a lack of funding for the reduction. 

Dr. Jensen explained the difficulties that the requirement puts on schools to project the number of students that will be enrolling. 

The target number of students in each classroom is dependent on grade level, with the idealized ratios being: 16:1 for kindergarten (16 students to one teacher), 22:1 for first through third grade, and 25:1 in first through sixth grade. Although the district has worked to reduce classroom sizes, according to Dr. Jensen, the reduction for kindergarten is not financially possible for the district. Kindergarten classes at Grass Valley Elementary School (GVES), Sonoma Heights Elementary School and the McDermitt kindergarten classes are not in full compliance with the reduction standards, as well as the sixth grade at French Ford Middle School (FFMS). The motion to accept the application was unanimously approved. 

• An update on the current teacher vacancies yet to be filled was presented by Dr. Jensen. The district currently has five remaining vacancies, which include a special Education position at GVES, a fifth grade teacher position at FFMS, a special education position at FFMS, a speech pathologist position, and a physical education position at the Winnemucca Grammar School. 

• The trustees discussed the key learning take-aways from the board retreat facilitated by Franklin Covey. 

“The work that this board has done under you as trustees far exceeds what most districts have done. That’s because you, as a board, support and have a vision for where we need to go,” exclaimed Dr. Jensen.