2021 March 16 How Do We Fix Our WCSD Schools? Part 3 of a Series

March 16, 2021

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” (John Adams – 2nd President of the United States)

How Do We Fix Our WCSD Schools? Part III of a 5-Part Series

For over a decade, the Washoe County School District (and all Nevada public schools) have ranked last in the nation or almost-last in the nation in quality of education. WCSD superintendents and school boards have primarily blamed our failing schools on a lack of funding. That is provably false because 10 states fund their public schools equal-to or LOWER-than Nevada, and all 10 of those states outperform our schools.

But if the solution for improving our schools is NOT more money, then what is it?

Our failing schools result from 5 main issues that need to be dealt with. Each issue will be explained in more detail in this column and in the three succeeding ones.

Part I -(Feb. 23) FACTS MATTER – WHAT TO DO about our WCSD schools

Part II – (March 2) WASTE LESS MONEY on buildings and non-instructional support services

Part lll – WASTE LESS TIME and MONEY on instructional-related employees

Part lV – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY regarding WHAT is taught and HOW

Part V – BETTER DISCIPLINE and CONTROL of student behavior

Part III: WASTE LESS TIME and MONEY on instructional-related employees

Much is written and spoken about reducing the “administrative bloat” in our WCSD schools, but no one ever provides the details. At last, here’s a list:

• WHICH instruction-related jobs should be eliminated or modified • WHY

Total “Bloat reduction” savings that could be realized: $12M – $20M per YEAR!

1) WCSD Superintendent’s “Leadership Team.”
Here is where the “bloat” starts. Go to this link to see the head of the snake. https://www.washoeschools.net/cms/lib/NV01912265/Centricity/Domain/97/WCSD%20Or%20Chart%2009%2017%202020.pdf
How critically important do the following jobs sound to you? “Chief Strategies Officer,” “Chief Accountability Officer”, “Chief Information Officer,” “Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer,” ad infinitum. WCSD schools consistently rank worst in the nation, offer no accountability for their failure to teach our kids, and stonewall community requests for information or interaction. What exactly do these “Leaders” – and the dozens of people who work underneath each one of them DO all day that is improving our students’ education? Answer: Little and nothing.

Bloat Reduction Action That Could Be Taken Immediately:
As a career educator, I assure you that you could entirely eliminate 1 out of every 3 “Leadership” departments, AND eliminate 1 out of every 3 employee positions in the REMAINING “Leadership” departments. No one would ever know they were gone. Any possible slack that needed to be picked-up could easily be handled if the remaining “leadership” departments simply provided taxpayers with an honest day’s work.

2) Do We Really Need FIVE Extra Superintendents?
For approximately 60,000 students and 100 schools, the WCSD superintendent hires an ADDITIONAL 5 “Field Superintendents” to help her supervise school operations. Compare this with the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District. He is responsible for 1,000 schools and 600,000 students (10X more than WCSD) and he only uses SIX Field Superintendents.

Bloat Reduction Action That Could Be Taken Immediately:
If you think 3 or 4 of WCSD’s excessive Field Superintendent positions could be eliminated immediately without ANY decrease in education quality, AND at an annual savings of close to a million dollars…you’re right!

3) School-site Administrators and Non-teaching “Specialists”
Unless they were willing to devote hundreds of hours to research, WCSD superintendent McNeill has made it virtually impossible for the public to see how many non-teaching administrative positions there are at each of WCSD’s 100 schools. This is intentional on the superintendent’s part, because it enables her to hide the absurd amount of administrative bloat. The Board needs to demand that the superintendent immediately provide a concise list of all the non-teaching positions at each school, so that the Board can easily spot the wasteful over-staffing and eliminate it.

Bloat Reduction Action That Could Be Taken Immediately:
A school of 600 or fewer students does not need ANY assistant administrators. Larger schools only need one assistant. With approximately 100 schools, WCSD could eliminate an average of 2-3 administrative positions per school (200-300 positions). Additionally, the large number of non-teaching “specialist” positions funded by extra subsidies should be eliminated and the money re-directed, because these positions contribute little or nothing to the overall education of our children.

What could WCSD do with the several hundred displaced individuals who are qualified as teachers but don’t teach? Offer them full-time classroom teaching positions – at a teacher’s pay scale. That would immediately eliminate WCSD’s teacher shortage, lower class size, and save millions of dollars.


4) A Non-teaching Educator is an Oxymoron –
The majority of WCSD administrators, including principals, are licensed to teach students but DON’T – and HAVEN’T for decades. That’s why their policies and expectations for teachers are unrealistic and counter-productive. That’s why they don’t have any real soul-connection with most WCSD students.

Bloat Reduction Action That Could Be Taken Immediately
EVERY administrator, from the superintendent on down, should be required to teach one class per day – every day. I know it works because as a principal and superintendent, I did it for years, and so did ALL our school administrators. It’s an easy activity to schedule and gives the students the thrill of being taught by a “boss.” Teachers appreciate their supervisor working alongside them in the “trenches”, and the administrators gain renewed respect for the challenges that teachers face all day/every day. This proposal would provide WCSD with at least 600 extra teaching hours per DAY. That’s the equivalent of 120 full-time teachers per DAY – at NO extra cost. Teacher and substitute teacher shortages would become a thing of the past.

“We have it in our power to begin the world (and our schools) again.”
(Thomas Paine – 1776)

Feedback is welcomed. Contact Paul White at white.pauld@gmail.com

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