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Susan Enfield selected as school district’s next superintendent

By Carly Sauvageau

The Washoe County School District’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted to have Susan Enfield move forward as the district’s next superintendent. Trustees will now work with Enfield to negotiate a contract for employment. 

Enfield has been the superintendent for Highline Public Schools in Burien, Washington for the last decade. 

Susan Enfield

During the community meeting at Wooster High last week, Enfield emphasized that she is in it for the long haul with the district. Despite the high turnover in WCSD for superintendents, Enfield said that if she was the right fit for the job, the community could get through it together. 

“It won’t always be easy. There will be disagreements, there will be challenges, but I believe if the fit is right…we’ll be able to get through it as a community,” she said at the April 19 community meeting.

In public comment at this week’s meeting, Katy Simon Holland, a previous president of the WCSD board of trustees, said she supported Enfield as the next superintendent. 

“In addition to being named by Ed Week as one of the most respected superintendents in the United States, she has the most successful experience and the most extensive experience among your finalists as a public school superintendent,” Holland said. 

Phil Keyser, a WCSD educator and president of the Washoe Education Association, said WEA also supported Enfield for the job because of her extensive experience as a superintendent. 

“Current experience as a superintendent going through COVID, which has been hell the last two years…She’s endured that with the rest of us and I think that informs her policy making,” Keyser said. “I think that she is a collaborative leader. I think she is someone who has experience reaching out to stakeholders.” 

Reed High School senior Caden Kuster participated in the interview process as the chair for the district’s Committee on Student Engagement and represented the Student Advisory Council. He said Enfield’s experience, achievable goals and innovative ideas were what swayed the student council.

While the educators that provided public comment were in favor of Enfield, several community members supported candidate Sherrell Hobbs and expressed disapproval of Jhone Ebert, head of Nevada’s Department of Education. 

Hobbs, during the community forum, said she hadn’t received the COVID-19 vaccine because of personal choice. She emphasized independent choice in education as well. 

Community members, disappointed in statewide student achievement rankings in the last several years and current academic standards, said they did not want Ebert in the role. They said she is already working for WCSD through her position at the state. 

Trustee Beth Smith motioned to approve Enfield to move forward as the next superintendent. The motion was passed 6-1 with Trustee Jeff Church in opposition. 

WCSD Trustee Angie Taylor
WCSD Trustee Dr. Angie Taylor. WCSD image.

After the vote, Trustee Angie Taylor thanked current Superintendent Kristen McNeill for her service.

“I will be remiss if I didn’t look at our sitting superintendent with great respect and appreciation and admiration for all that you’ve done. How you’ve led us through some unprecedented things that’s never come our way in education before….You have been steadfast, you have been committed. You have not at any time shortchanged or cheated this district because you are on your way to a well-deserved retirement after 30 years. So I just wanted to say thank you,” Taylor said.

June 30 is McNeill’s last day with the district.

Superintendent task force

The superintendent’s task force, led by Debi Stears and formed in October 2021 to review English Language Arts curriculum for grades K-5, gave a presentation to the board about their goals. 

The task force at its May meeting will look at whether to advise the superintendent to provide supplementary ELA materials to bolster the curriculum. 

Trustee Ellen Minetto said she is worried about the task force’s timeline and when recommendations will be implemented since McNeill is retiring. Stears said the task force is unsure of the timeline but that their work will have to be done before July 1.

Early childhood programs

Tina Springmeyer, the director of the district’s Child & Family Services, gave a presentation on the importance of Early Childhood Education (or ECE). As in many areas of education, qualified ECE teachers are in short supply. There is also limited classroom space for ECE program expansion in schools. 

Springmeyer said another challenge to providing ECE in the district is funding. Since ECE is not a public school service such as K-12, program funding comes mostly from federal grants. 

Universal pre-K would alleviate many of their challenges, but Springmeyer said that she doubts she will see that come to pass before the end of her career.

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