The school board met this past Thursday to review the progress of the school district and discuss the various subjects that concern our community. Before the meeting began, the meeting heard from Lincoln County High School’s show choir. Led by their director, Jacob Lester, they performed “Rock around the Clock Tonight.”
After the Pledge of Allegiance, the board opened up the floor to public comment.
The first comment came from Panaca resident, Grant Perkins. Referring to a few revelations made during a safety meeting held at Panaca Elementary a few weeks ago, Perkins wanted to petition the board to allow teachers to carry firearms in their classrooms, albeit with the proper training. He pointed out that in both the cases of Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida, properly armed teachers could have stop the massacres from happening, instead of having to act as “meat shields.”
He then showed the board NRS 202.265, which allows teachers to carry firearms as long as the principal in charge gives them written consent.
This came up in the safety meeting as well, and in both cases, Perkins pointed out that this law doesn’t mention having to get permission from the superintendent. He encouraged both the board and the superintendent to consider this viable option and offered his own assistance, if it was needed.
Multiple members of the community echoed Perkins’ concerns and agreed with his solution.
One of the members of the show choir that had performed earlier even offered a comment, saying that he has full faith in his teachers doing the right thing, and that by arming them, he himself would feel much safer.
Next came the school reports, starting with Lincoln County High School.
Lester offered his thanks to the board for all their support. He informed the board that a few of their students had won scholarships to colleges all over the country, and that those still in school were able to participate in many events because of the board’s continual assistance.
After this, the show choir performed the song “Shut Up and Dance With Me”, which prompted Pat Kelly of the board to express his pride in the performing arts departments in the county.
Next up was Pahranagat Valley, which shared the science fair projects that stood out at their latest event. The subjects of the projects ranged from “Why do seasons change?” to “What fabric keeps us the warmest?”, and even “How much weight can eggshells support?”, the last of which placed first in the science fair.
They also reviewed the reading week they had participated in, the NHP assembly they put on, another assembly where they had a children’s author speak, and then ended with some congratulations to their girls’ basketball team and boys’ academic team for their state championship wins.
Next, C.O. Bastian reported that they had five more graduates this month, with five more possibly coming this next month.
The principal reiterated that the students appreciated the attendance of the board members who took the time to attend the graduations.
The next piece of news that C.O. Bastian shared was that through Division of Child and Family Services, they had found much needed funding that could alleviate their financial issues, and that there was more funding that they had heard about just earlier that day as well. The principal was happy to have this extra money, because extra money leads to more teaching positions being filled, which makes the quality of teaching at the school better.
Pioche Elementary followed with a report about their literacy night and how it was well attended. The principal pointed out that Pat Kelly is always in attendance at the meetings, and that she appreciates it very much. Then they shared that they had had a safety meeting as well due to the events in Panaca and reported on the summit learning program they had been piloting since earlier this year. The principal expressed her love of this program and pointed out that representatives from other schools in the county had come to check it out. Since they’re getting used to the program, the principal says that it’s “less scary,” and she strongly encourages other schools to implement this program into their own curriculum. She even mentioned that some of her sixth-grade students had finished their own curriculum and were moving on to seventh-grade work to help keep them occupied.
Panaca Elementary took the floor next and started with a quick report about the safety meeting previously mentioned. Next, they reported on their reading week, congratulated Ethan Lester on his participation in the state spelling bee, and then thanked the sheriff’s office for alleviating their concerns over the events of the past few weeks. They also mentioned the upcoming play, “Brigadoon”, which began its showings on Tuesday, March 13.
Lastly, Caliente Elementary reported on their “global day of play,” in which they participated with schools all over the world. The idea behind this event is that kids need unstructured playtime to help develop problem-solving skills and encourage creative thinking. This meant that kids could not use electronics and that teachers and staff could not interfere with how the kids were playing, which the teachers admitted led to the first few minutes being chaotic. But after that, the kids seemed happier and were more willing to participate, and all those involved called the experiment a success, encouraging other schools to participate next year.
The board moved on to its own business, starting with the retirement of Elaine Shumway, who will work with the school district until the end of the 2019-2020 school year but will be leaving once that school year ends. She expressed her gratitude towards the board and her love of all those she has had the wonderful opportunity to work with. The board publicly thanked her for her service and passed a motion to accept her resignation.
Then came the report that Brian Higbee would also be retiring following the 2019-2020 school year. Since Higbee was able to attend via video conference to their library in Alamo, he was able to give his own resignation, citing that he had been preparing for his retirement early on in his career and that he was ready to go.
A few members of the board shared memories of Higbee and expressed their gratitude for his years of service to the community. After the request was passed, Superintendent Pam Teel mentioned that she was pleased that teachers were planning well for retirement and encouraged everyone to follow Higbee’s lead.
After approving a small change to the Lincoln County Administrators Association agreement from last meeting (the document they agreed to was missing the last page, which meant that they had to re-approve it), the continuing acceptance of the four-day “alternative” schedule, and a short Nevada Association of School Boards report about the upcoming national safety meeting, the board offered its own comments.
The board seemed to agree that all of the options needed to be explored before it makes a final decision on whether or not to allow teachers to be armed, but noted that it’s a viable option.The board thanked all of the teachers and staff that stepped up during the events in Panaca, expressing its belief that the best teachers in the world are here. It concluded by congratulating all the teams involved this year and expressed pride in every one of the employees of the Lincoln County School District.
Teel expressed many of the same sentiments during her comments, adding that they cannot make all of their safety plans public, but that there are plans already in motion to help keep the students safe.
One last public comment was made in reference to ACT testing. One member of the community expressed his concerns that the faculty may not be pushing kids to participate in this testing due to an experience he had where a teacher questioned why he would want to participate in this testing due to his grades. While he knew that the teacher meant no offense, this member of the community wanted to make sure that the board was doing all it could to help push students to succeed and to make preparations to take the ACT or SAT to help them along the path to college.