As the days start to get shorter and the temperatures cool down, the kids in the Washoe County School District are headed back to school this week to mark the commencement of the 2019- 20 school year.
On Monday, August 12, the new school year started at 5:30 a.m. when members of the WCSD Board of Trustees, Interim Superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill, and members of the WCSD Leadership Team met at the WCSD Nutrition Services facility on 585 Spice Islands Court which is responsible for providing close to 47,000 meals for students and staff members daily.
After touring the district’s nutrition center, the management team then visited the three new middle and elementary schools that recently opened its doors to students in Sun Valley, Sparks and Reno. More than $15 million was spent in district renovations and refurbishments over the summer, funded by the WC-1 measure that voters passed in 2016 to help eliminate overcrowding by building new schools and keep existing schools up to date.
“The first day of the new school year is such an exciting time,” said WCSD board president Katy Simon Holland. “It’s a happy time for reuniting with friends, a day of uncertainty and nervousness for many facing changes, and a day filled with potential and opportunity to achieve great things. It’s even more exciting this year because we are opening three brand-new schools. I know our teachers and staff are eager to meet their new students as the school year gets underway, and I look forward to welcoming everyone back to school for another year of teaching and learning.”
“All of us at WCSD have worked hard over the summer to prepare our schools for our students’ return to classes,” says interim superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill. “Every year begins with new promise for academic success, and I am confident this year will be no different. We are dedicated to ensuring that all of our students receive the supports and resources they need to learn and grow, and we are excited to welcome everyone back for another great school year,” she adds.
With the changing of the seasons and new schools also comes the changing of some top administration positions, one of the most notable being the termination of former superintendent Traci Davis early last month. In the meantime, McNeill has been named interim superintendent and the board of trustees discussed the steps for hiring a permanent superintendent at its regular August 13 board meeting.
There have also been some shifts in personnel within Sparks schools. For instance, former Dilworth principal Laura Peterson is opening Desert Skies Middle School in Sun Valley and Gina Leonhard (previously at Shaw Middle School) welcomed students to the new Sky Ranch Middle School on 1200 Windmill Farms Parkway. Other principal changes include Dave Hartshorn at Mendive Middle School, Prim Walters at Diedrichsen Elementary School, Kellie Scott-Oliver at Jesse Hall Elementary School, Kelly Humphryes at Sepulveda Elementary School, Jonna AuCoin at Greenbrae Elementary School and Annalisa Walker at Agnes Risley Elementary School.
Regarding the Sparks personnel changes, the district offered a statement:
“As a district we continuously support our staff in their growth and development in leadership roles. We have many opportunities for teachers to become leaders among their peers and remain in classrooms as well as opportunities for growth into administrative roles.
We encourage our school leaders to expand upon their experiences by taking on leadership roles at new schools. Longtime educators bring a wealth of experience to their roles, and our students and staff members benefit from their work in our schools every day.”