Carson City Schools could fill shortage with retired teachers

The Carson City School Board approved a motion to allow the district to accept position applications from retired teachers in light of critical labor shortages in Carson.

The board met Tuesday night to discuss the issue of shortages in elementary education, math and Pre-K education. Dr. Jose Delfin said they’re looking at ways to try to fill a number of vacant positions from unexpected leavings.

“This year we are having a harder time with filling regular positions than the typical ones,” Delfin said. “…We had no idea (the number of vacancies) until we looked at the vacancies this summer and were surprised that we were short and it’s because of a lot of last minute retirees and resignations that we weren’t prepared for.”

He said they have six vacant elementary education positions this year, most of them at Seeliger Elementary. The predicament is it isn’t ideal to keep long-term substitutes in the classrooms; however, hiring teachers this late in the year could mean the district is choosing from a selection of less than desirable applicants.

“The principals are really picky because there is a lot of work that has to be done,” Delfin said. “They are looking at the resumes and are being picky right now because we want to see why didn’t (the hire) already get a job? Sometimes the late hires aren’t the cream of the crop.”

The school board trustees said they had a difficult time deciding whether to approve this agenda item because they believe this means the district needs to do a better job of keeping good quality teachers in the district.

“I don’t believe we are doing enough to retain or recruit for these needs,” said School Board Clerk Ryan Green. “We aren’t doing our job or grabbing the talent offered.”

“We don’t want bad teachers obviously, but we need to have teachers in the classroom,” added President Joe Cacioppo.

Delfin said they have been diligently trying to recruit new hires from the University of Nevada, Sierra Nevada College and University of Nevada Las Vegas; however, there’s a shortage of teachers coming out of the education system. Enrollment into the education program at the universities has been down nationwide nearly 50 percent in some places, Delfin said.

“These shortages aren’t unique to just Carson, education is getting a bad reputation, people just aren’t going into education as often now,” Delfin said.

In the end, the board approved the motion with a 6-1 vote. Green was the only dissenting vote.

The board also approved unanimously CCSD Policy 1015, which provides details on staff responsibility to report all criminal charges brought against them.

The policy is designed so a formal policy is in place for what employees should do if they’re arrested or have criminal charges brought against them.

“We had something in the statute for a number of years but there was no formal policy so by having (policy 1015) this can occur,” said Superintendent Richard Stokes.

Though the policy states the employee has to disclose the arrest, it doesn’t touch on the next step. Stokes said they will follow the regular procedure into investigating the incident and deciding a punishment.

“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” Stokes said. “If an employee finds themselves in the situation this allows us to know when these things occur.”

Susan Keema, Associate Superintendent, also presented to informational update to the board on the district’s Read by Grade 3 initiative. The initiative was created in July 2015 by the state to increase the number of proficient readers so every student can read at a third grade level by age nine. The district had to provide a literacy plan to submit to the state in order to receive a grant, worth more than $1 million, for the training and tools to implement the initiative. This plan included procedures to assess proficiency in reading including elements such as reading fluency and comprehension.

The purpose of getting students to be proficient by third grade is because that’s when they’re learning to read well and past that, students read for comprehension instead of just skill and if they don’t have that piece it can impact their work in other areas, said Lead Literacy specialist Cheryl Richetta.

The district is in the process of holding parent nights to provide information to families on what the initiative is and how their child is impacted.

“The most important thing is working through the elements of the law and communicating with families,” Keema said.

All kindergarten through third grade students took an assessment called the MAP test in September in order to judge proficiency and if a student was found to be deficient, parents were notified in a letter. If students are found to be not reading proficient by grade three, there would be the possibility they could be held back instead of moving onto the fourth grade.

Some concern over the assessment came from the kindergarten level students. Some teachers and paraprofessionals spoke at the meeting to express their concerns kindergarten students aren’t graded accurately with the test because they aren’t in school long before being asked to take the test. The students are only in school for about a month before the test is administered and the test is too complicated for students, they say.

One teacher reported 14 of her 20 kindergarten students ranked deficient in the test, though she said the students physically and emotionally struggled while taking the 55-question test.

For now, the district is still trying to decide how to best implement the initiatives into the elementary sites.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Keema said.


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