During its “Maintenance Monday,” Parent Leaders for Education gathered at Roy Gomm Elementary School in Reno to discuss Capital Funding issues within the Washoe County School District. Topics included building maintenance, revitalization and security and included attendees such as Assemblyman Pat Hickey, Council for Excellence in Education chairman Daryl Drake and parents and teachers from around the district.
Jill Tolles is a member of Parent Leaders for Education and she said the organization has grown immensely as the region and state begin to focus on education even more intently.
“We started with seven parents in the community who looked at the rankings and said this is not OK,” Tolles said Monday prior to the council meeting. “We saw that there was a lack of a parent and community voice down in Carson City so we started to go down to the legislature and testify at committee hearings, working with the school district to get more involvement and now we have over 1,000 parents involved.”
Tolles said the basic messages the group will bring to this year’s legislature surround funding and reforms. She said the group lives by three basic principles: communicate, cooperate and create. The group will be working each day with a different theme of focus in hopes of generating public interest and creating more involvement.
The events continue today with “Technology Tuesday,” examining tech-based classrooms and the role they will play in the future. “Kindergarten Wednesday,” “Grant Funding Thursday” and “Read By Three Friday” will tackle all-day kindergarten classes, district-dependent grants and reading proficiency, respectively.
“(Public Schools Week) is about informing the public and inviting it to get informed and get involved with advocating for education,” Tolles said. “We picked those topics because we have met with a lot of legislators, the school district and members of the community and asked them what are the top priorities in this upcoming session and these are the results. These are the things that are going to be most talked about in Carson City and the most pressing for the school district.”
Tolles said the proclamation read by Mayor Martini solidifies the efforts of the organization and having it proclaimed by the Washoe County School District and other government entities shows a willingness to focus on education.
“The fact that the community and the city support it shows that it is unified effort,” she said. “It is not just parents with their kids in the schools and it’s not just school district employees and it’s not legislators trying to get re-elected — it’s everyone.
“One of the things that has been most exciting for me is that the conversation has changed. Suddenly everybody is talking about education as a priority and we didn’t hear that same message two or three years ago. The fact that the Sparks City Council supports it is fantastic.”
For more information about Parent Leaders for Education, visit www.educationpriority1.org.
The Sparks City Council also approved the re-appropriation of about $3.7 million to the Capital Projects and Special Revenue Funds budgets for projects that were approved but not completed in the fiscal year of 2011-12. As of Monday’s City Council meeting, the city had completed five of the 15 approved Capital Improvement Projects, including the Sparks Marina peninsula beach improvements, bike path enhancement and rehabilitation, the City Hall restroom project, the senior center stucco rehabilitation and the Pah Rah Park accessible play structure.
The approval of the budget augmentation also included an additional $441,600 for the Golden Eagle Little League Field Expansion project due to construction costs exceeding original plans. The remaining 10 projects approved in the fiscal year of 2011-12 have a total cost of about $2.8 million.
The Sparks City Council also approved the donation of 2,500 10-year smoke alarms by Spanish Springs Home Depot to the Sparks Fire Department for its Project SAFE Residential Smoke Alarm Program.
Sparks Fire Marshal Bob King said the SFD has applied for three different grants over three consecutive years to obtain 1,000 smoke alarms for the project. With Home Depot’s donation, King said there will likely be a couple-year hiatus from those grants.
“We have put 10-year fire alarms in 647 homes and we have sold 1,687 alarms and our goal this year is to put smoke alarms in 1,000 homes,” King said. “I really can’t thank Home Depot enough for their donation. They actually do a whole lot more for the community, more than I ever knew.”