When Sparks’ 13,306 students showed up for school Monday the only thing missing were some teachers.
“Fortunately we have the rooms we need…,” said Jim Verdi, principal of Spanish Springs Elementary School. “But we’re still looking for teachers.”
Although classes began on Monday, Verdi said the search for teachers continues throughout the district.
“Schools are handling the issue in different ways,” he said. “Some are looking for long-term substitute teachers, others are doubling-up on classes. We’re being creative. We’ll deal with it.”
Sparks enrollment this year breaks down as follows: 7,557 elementary students (expected to increase to 7,900); 2,433 middle schoolers and 3,316 high school students.
Because of changes in eligibility for the Breakfast after the Bell program this year more than 1,600 Sparks students will receive free breakfasts at three schools: Dilworth, 586; Sparks Middle, 772; and Drake, 276.
Principal Verdi and his peers are focusing on two new programs—full-time kindergarten and Read By 3. Washoe County School District expanded free full-day kindergarten to all its elementary schools, one year ahead of the state’s mandate.
“Kindergarten represents such an important time in young students’ lives,” said school board President John Mayer. “It’s part of their introduction to formal education and can help set the tone for their academic careers.”
In the past the school district offered state-funded, full-day kindergarten at some schools and half-day kindergarten and tuition-based full-day kindergarten classes at others. To implement full-time kindergarten this year, the district is using assistance from the state plus funds from Zoom School funding and the general fund.
Principal Verdi is excited about the potential Read by 3 has for students.
“It’ll give students an academic foundation to get going and develop their reading and math skills,” he said.
If students cannot read by the end of the third grade, Read by 3 legislation mandates they be held back.