Jessica Timmons 0

Change the WCSD Teacher Overage Policy

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This petition began as a means of voicing our opposition to a single teacher’s re-allocation. Now, we are pushing for a district-wide change to a policy that undermines teachers, disrupts students, and ultimately cripples our entire community.

It become apparent in the comments posted on our original petition here and on social media that the situation at Roy Gomm isn’t unique. In the six weeks of this 2018-19 school year and in years past, there have been multiple occurrences of teachers being abruptly moved to different schools and different grades well after the school year has begun as a result of clerical errors and faulty estimating.

There must be a change.

The WCSD Mission Statement reads, “To create an education system where all students achieve academic success, develop personal and civic responsibility, and achieve college- and career readiness for the 21st century.” And yet, this policy stands in direct opposition to both these goals and the district’s own core values.

Core Value Three reads, “Effective teachers and principals, dedicated support staff, rigorous curriculum, culturally responsive practices, measurable outcomes, timely interventions, ongoing monitoring and assessment, collaboration, professional development, and a culture of continuous improvement ensure classroom success for all students.” It cannot be argued that separating students from their classroom teacher, and conversely, introducing new students to teachers, allows for timely interventions. Teachers are forced to begin anew with both district assessment data and invaluable anecdotal data, impeding the timeliness of initiating interventions. Their planned curriculums also suffer tremendously when they are abruptly moved to different grades and different schools.

And then there are the students themselves, the children who are scared, saddened, and confused by these entirely avoidable decisions.

It’s understandable that allocating teachers based on student enrollment is a challenging scenario, particularly in a growing, evolving district. However, the timing and deadline of this enrollment count must be reconsidered as a means of avoiding the resulting chaos, which has a direct impact on the affected students’ social and emotional well-being. Enrollment counts should be finalized before school begins, and final teacher allocations should be made at that time as well.

Every child, by name and face, to graduation. That is the goal, and it is admirable. But the current policy does nothing to support this goal and goes directly against the best interests of our children.

There must be a different outcome. We are respectfully asking our elected school officials to reconsider this policy in the interest of our district’s students, teachers, school staff, and parents. We can do better - and we must.

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Please read our first petition below. We are happy to announce that after review, and what the district describes as correcting a mathematical error, Mr. V is staying at Roy Gomm.

Six weeks into the 2018 school year, we were informed that due to allocation errors, our school was losing one of its fourth grade teachers. The decision was made based on the fact that our school has a two-student margin below the threshold needed to keep this teacher. And yet, it is impacting not only Mr. Ventetuolo's fourth grade class, but three second grade classes as well.

A second-grade teacher - part of a two-teacher co-teaching team - is being moved to cover the fourth grade class, causing all three second grade classes to be re-balanced through a lottery system. This choice increases class sizes that were already above the limits set forth in the Nevada Revised Statutes.

This is unacceptable.

Nevada Revised Statutes (388.700) state that “In kindergarten and grades 1 and 2, must not exceed 16 to 1…” By making this decision, the Washoe County School District is clearly not acting on the best interest of these students.

Research indicates time and time again that the quality of a student’s teacher is one of the strongest indicators of potential student success. The lack of continuity due this decision is negatively affecting four classrooms and approximately 92 students.

Mr. Ventetuolo, the fourth grade teacher being moved to a different school, has already had a remarkable impact on these students during his six weeks here at Roy Gomm. They are authentically engaged by his enthusiasm, skill and care. His teaching and the work he is doing with these students is in fact highlighted as the current top story on the front page of the WCSD website in the “Latest News” section regarding his work on the Fall Story Stroll project. The students in his class have authored a book that will be featured in conjunction with Washoe County Libraries and the Washoe County Regional Parks system programming. It is heartbreaking that these kids will not be able to follow through on their work because of this decision.

Mr. V, as the kids call him, is an unbelievable teacher and has made an incredible impact on these students. It does not follow that 92 students, their parents, and Mr. V himself should be negatively impacted because our school currently comes in with two students beneath the threshold. We are respectfully asking that this decision be reversed.

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