INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Vision 2020 town hall held last Tuesday to prioritize future community-wide initiatives had low turnout by student-aged parents and educators. Whether due to the late school night timing or the lack of interest in advancing education in our community, education ended up prioritized as fourth out of the five areas being voted on. However, in this list of prioritized themes and some issues of each, I’ve included aspects that relate to education:
1) Community Development: attract young families, declining population economic development, tourism, downtown identity, etc.
2) Governance: More local control and autonomy, need plenary form, central focus, local leadership and Local Action Committees to empower local planning and change relative to TRPA, State, County, and School District.
3) Quality of Life: Improved ability to “age in place” and welcome wagon for new families.
4) Education: ensure greater continuity and alignment from elementary through high school and colleges like SNC (called “pK-16”), increase use of technology and blended learning, reduce out-migration of students, address bi-lingual performance gap, tap into “brain trust” of community and businesses for volunteer educators, leverage outdoor education opportunities, ensure small class sizes, raise graduation rate and academic performance for all students so whole system moves from being OK or “good” to great, outstanding, world class.
5) Mobility: improve connections between sidewalks for walking, hiking, biking, improve ADA accessibility and public transit, leverage water taxi
Allan Parker, part-time entrepreneurial professor at UNR, was the NRDC committee member who presented the education theme findings to those assembled. He gave highlights from the Vision 2020 Final Report recommendations which you can read at: www.isaefforourkids.com/get-informed/.
Allan’s top recommendation is to create an “educational council made up of local community members to ‘build a platform for action’ and help ‘tap into funding’” (p. 27) while a subgroup could look at the “feasibility of working outside the WCSD or even creating a new school district.” Such councils are comprised of residents, businesses, parents, administrators, and students and their tasks include completing a needs assessment for elementary through high school and determining funding needs.
The Education break-out group (about 15 people out of 160) further discussed key initiatives such as technology-enabled blended learning to meet more rigorous learning standards and nurture each student’s unique aptitudes, passions, and engagement in their learning. The group discussed how deeper engagement in learning leads to increased graduation rates and academic achievement for ALL students and decreased remediation rates of IHS college-bound graduates.
Most participants felt that achieving such objectives will require more investment and autonomy than WCSD or NV government appear to provide at the moment. However, as Jim Clark reported in Bonanza last week, the new NV State Superintendent of Schools, James Guthrie, has met with some local education advocates and seems receptive to proposals for greater flexibility, choice, and innovation in how Incline schools deliver excellent educational opportunities.
WCSD’s new superintendent, Pedro Martinez, expressed a similar perspective at his Aug. 23 Town Hall where he encouraged the community to move beyond the challenges we’ve faced in the past and organize around innovative plans to become a flagship K-16 system in the district and state. Both the WCSD and state leaders agree that we could be given greater independence if we demonstrate that we have the ability to orchestrate and harness community expertise and resources. This was also the overarching theme of all NRDC council findings: form Local Action Committees to plan for and implement change initiatives.
Are we ready and able as a community to build upon the work of the Incline Great Schools Committee and the WCSD Envision 2015 plans to collaboratively create a truly world-class education destination here in the NE Corner of Lake Tahoe? Most importantly, are YOU able and willing to participate in its’ creation?
If so, please join the first Vision 2020 Education Action Team meeting on SEPT. 11 at 7:00pm at the Parasol Foundation (main floor) to establish priorities and sub-committees to explore potential directions. All community members are welcome and encouraged to attend — whether or not you attended any prior meetings. For the Vision 2020 full report and to participate in on-line discussions, join the new North Tahoe Education Forum at www.isaefforourkids.com/get-informed/. Thank you!
— Mary Alber, PhD, MBA, is an IV resident with two children in local schools, and a passion to develop education opportunities for all 21st century students.