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Enfield addresses teacher satisfaction, school safety at annual State of Education

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School safety and funding are key priorities for Washoe County School District Superintendent Susan Enfield, who on Thursday hosted a State of Education address to discuss challenges and changes for the future.

At Marce Herz Middle School in south Reno, families and faculty toured the classrooms to see district programs, services and resources that are currently being offered. Enfield answered questions and spoke with families to get a better idea of what students and the community need. 

“I will be the most vocal cheerleader of this district because that’s my job as your superintendent and I’m incredibly proud of the work that is happening in our schools each and every day,” Enfield said during her address. “I will also be the most loving critic. My job is also to partner with our staff to make sure that we’re identifying areas where we can do better.” 

Challenges that Enfield addressed included inadequate state funding and school safety, both of which she plans to improve especially during this year’s legislative session. One point she made was that WCSD would be heavily involved in lobbying during this legislative session to ensure that the needs of the district were directly resolved. 

To address safety concerns around the district, Enfield said the district is planning to introduce a new rapid response system giving staff a badge where they could inform the administration of an incident immediately. Depending on the severity of the issue, this alert could go straight to law enforcement to be dispatched to the affected school. 

Enfield’s talking points followed up on a statement released by the district to media earlier in the day outlining a number of ways the district was working to improve safety. Among the actions, staff will be participating in training on de-escalation and trauma-sensitive learning environments, improving educator support for violent and disruptive behavior, and advocating for state-level reforms. 

Other changes Enfield discussed addressed staff recruitment and retention. Starting July 1, new teachers would receive health benefits on their first day and would no longer need to wait the customary 90 days for benefits to take effect. 

The district is also looking to address the social and emotional state of teachers and staff since the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit school districts hard, Enfield said. The hope, she said, is to better their overall satisfaction with their work. 

To meet the needs of the most vulnerable among the students, WCSD is also creating new committees, such as the Family Action committee and the Special Needs Family Advisory committee, where families would have a direct line to the school district. 

“I think it’s important given the challenges that we are facing with our special education services that we bring together those families to make sure that they have a voice in their child’s education but also to make sure that we are implementing our programs in the best possible way,” said Enfield. 

Speaking about their higher education partners, which include Truckee Meadows Community College and University of Nevada, Reno, Enfield said she wanted to make sure that students are being given every opportunity to graduate prepared to go to college, no matter if they go or not. The goal is to let students decide what path to follow while also knowing what options they have and what those look like in their lives. 

Mark Hernandez
Mark Hernandez
Mark was born in Mexico, grew up in Carson City, and has recently returned to Reno to continue to explore and get to know the city again. He got his journalism degree in 2018 and wants to continue learning photography for both business and pleasure. Languages and history are topics he likes to discuss as well as deplete any coffee reservoirs in close proximity.

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