WCSD Superintendent Davis Touts Progress, Discusses Challenges - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

WCSD Superintendent Davis Touts Progress, Discusses Challenges

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The state of education in Washoe County School District is improving according to Superintendent Traci Davis, who discussed some of the district's successes, and some of their problems at the State of Education address Wednesday night.

The address was held at Billinghurst Middle School, and students from Billinghurst among other schools in the district go to participate in the event, to make it interactive.

"Make it about the continuum from pre-K all the way up to high schools," Davis said. "By using videos and putting kids on stage to really look at the work that happens in our buildings."

The first big achievement Davis celebrated was a record high graduation rate.

"The Class of 2017 broke another graduation rate record reaching 84%," Davis said during her speech. "And this is the fifth consecutive year that rates have improved."

While the district is happy with that progress, they still have work to do to achieve their "90 by 20" goal. That means a 90% graduation rate by the class of 2020.

Another major achievement Davis touted was breaking ground on two new middle school, and a new elementary school to help with overcrowding. The district also spent $20 million on repairing schools in need last year. All funds for those projects come from WC-1.

"We're hoping to spend another $20 million on repair needs [this year]." Davis said.

Davis also talked about the district's effort to be more transparent, which is part of the reason why she wanted to talk about the district's budget in the address. Last year she thought about it and was told it's never discussed at the State of Education, but this year she decided to include it anyway after a lot of emails from people angry it wasn't talked about.

"So I listened to what the community said" Davis said. "And I said we need to put budget concerns in the slide to be aware of."

Although it's a first, it's quite relevant for the budget to be mentioned, because it's likely the district biggest issue. The district is currently dealing with a 19 million dollar structural deficit, meaning they currently operate at a 19 million dollar loss every year. The goal is to eliminate that within three years. Katy Simon Holland said that's probably their biggest test.

"A budget is a moral document, " Simon Holland said. "You know it tells us how we're going to allocate our resources to support our values."

Even if the school district eliminates that structural deficit within that time frame, the budget will likely still cause headaches as the district looks for resources.

"We have lot of issue that need more money instead of less so it's a very difficult process," Simon Holland said.

"The board will have a difficult decision of drawing the line and it's not easy," Davis said. "We have to continue to work on and advocate for funding through the legislature."

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