"State of Education" in the Washoe County School District - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

"State of Education" in the Washoe County School District

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Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez laid out his plans moving forward in his first "State of Education" address on Tuesday night.

The superintendent listed his top priorities for the next five years, including raising standards at all grade levels, securing more funding from the legislature and boosting graduation rates.

Martinez says if there's one point people should take from his address, it's that standards within the district are changing. That means implementing his "plan of action" -- a pared-down version of the district's strategic plan.

It calls for boosting graduation rates with early intervention, tutoring after school programs and better assessment. Martinez wants to grow the "Signature Academy" program, close achievement gaps in at-risk and minority populations, increase gifted programming and add more online classes. It also includes implementing the common core standards -- a new set of curriculum requirements that increase difficulty at all levels.

"Too many of our students are still at-risk of not graduating, said Martinez. "Too many of our children are in need of remedial classes, and the common core standards, implemented from kindergarten through the 12th grade over the long run is going to solve that problem."

With the legislative session starting up, the district is sponsoring a bill to help fund capital improvements at the schools.

"That is the area right now where we feel we're the most vulnerable," Martinez said. "We have buildings right now that frankly are falling apart."

Assembly Bill 46 would increase average property taxes by about $8 per month. That would generate about $20 million every year to fix broken heating and air systems, old fixtures and leaky roofs.

"I go in there and the thermostats are broken. The kids are going to school in shorts in the winter because it's too hot to concentrate," says Kelley Miner, a member of the Nevada PTA.

"I want our families to know that we are going to make sure their children are better prepared than ever before, we want to make sure our children are competitive across the country," Martinez says.

Martinez also mentioned that the district is running a nearly $22 million deficit, which he expects to grow to about $32 million by 2014. One of his goals over the next two years is to eliminate that deficit and balance the budget.

Written by Arianna Bennett

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