Washoe School Board: Davis contract, arming teachers, lunch prices

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - In its meeting June 12, 2018, the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to approve a new contract for Superintendent Traci Davis.

Trustees Veronica Frankel and Scott Kelly were the no-votes.

“I want to applaud Superintendent Davis for working cooperatively with the Board’s representatives in the negotiation,” said Board President Katy Simon Holland. “She is acutely aware of the budget challenges our District is facing, and she volunteered to give up many of the benefits she was offered in the past.”

Under terms of the proposed contract, Superintendent Davis has agreed to eliminate a number of benefits from her reimbursement package, including:
• Annual automatic five percent longevity bonus
• Annual additional 1/3 year service credit payment by WCSD
• Additional mileage reimbursement beyond the car allowance for miles accrued outside Washoe County.

Her salary remains about $275,000 annually.

In addition, other benefits will be offered under terms consistent with other WCSD administrators, including maximum vacation accrual and payment and Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs). Payouts of unused sick leave will be reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent.

“In negotiating this package, we strove for consistency not only with what other superintendents in other districts of similar size earn, but also with what other public sector CEOs receive in our region,” said President Holland. “We strove to create a contract that recognizes that the Superintendent has a unique role and set of responsibilities and we believe this contract does that. Our primary goal is to provide the best leadership possible for our 64,000 students and 8,000-plus employees.”

Board member Debra Femster showed frustration about the new agreement, saying the new contract is a “step back” for women and sends a negative message.

At the same meeting, the board reaffirmed its opposition to proposals to arm teachers and other school staffers. The resolution adopted by the board calls upon state and federal authorities to provide funding for school districts in Nevada and across the nation for additional school police officers, counselors, psychologists, social workers, firearm safety education programs, and security features in school buildings.

WCSD says its School Police Department, plus the National Association of School Resource Officers and other law enforcement professionals fully trained and certified in the use of firearms do not support the arming of educators or educational support professionals.

“We recognize that gun violence represents a clear and present danger to our students, staff, families, and community, but our educators are not trained law enforcement officers,” said Board President Katy Simon Holland. “We work closely with our outstanding WCSD School Police Department, Emergency Manager James Hendrickson, and local, state, and national authorities to conduct regular safety trainings and drills for our students and staff members. We believe that arming our educators would pose a great safety risk, and we agreed today that we needed to oppose any move toward allowing weapons in our classrooms or on our campuses.”

“Our WCSD School Police Officers undergo rigorous and ongoing training in the use of firearms, weapons retention, and threat recognition and we are prepared to respond to all situations surrounding campus safety,” said WCSD School Police Chief Jason Trevino. “As a District, we are committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment in our schools, and arming our educators directly contradicts that mission. Our officers are fully trained and certified in the use of firearms, and we feel strongly that educators should not keep weapons accessible in their classrooms or on their person.”

The board says its members’ resolution is consistent with reports released by several federal agencies, including the Departments of Education, Justice, and Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which emphasize that the possibility of school gun violence does not in any way justify the arming of school personnel other than trained law enforcement officers. Prominent national education associations including those representing school counselors, principals, psychologists, resource officers, and social workers have also cautioned against ‘seemingly quick and potentially harmful solutions, such as arming school personnel’ which would ‘cause more harm than good.’

Trustees directed staff to send the resolution to state and federal representatives following the meeting.

A motion was also carried for a school lunch increase of ten cents. For elementary schools, the cost will move from $2.70 to $2.80 per meal; for secondary schools it will be $3.05 per meal, up from $2.95.

The raise is required by the Department of Agriculture to subsidize free or low-cost food programs. Ten cents is the minimum raise required by the federal government.