“When she graduates, we’ll have spent 16 straight years at this school,” he said, referring to all three of his children who started their educations at Gomm.
Sandoval’s visit to Gomm on Monday was a highlight of the back-to-school flurry for Washoe County’s traditional sites. Administrators kicked off the day walking to Reno High School with students and ensuring that everything was going off without a hitch.
But for Sandoval, who shelled out the money to pay for his own cafeteria lunch, the time he spent chatting with students while sitting down for a meal was the fun part of his day.
Sandoval’s campaign to visit schools, spend time with kids and talk to teachers and principals about their needs for education started in April and will continue through November. He said it’s important to help give Nevada’s children the best education possible.
“It’s very difficult,” he said regarding the current budget. “What’s important is not how much we have but how we spend it. We need to use our resources wisely and efficiently. It’s a difficult budget situation.”
Sandoval and his opponent, Rory Reid, held their first debate Sunday night, televised from the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas.
In the debate, Sandoval discussed his plan to allow parents choices in their children’s educations, proposing vouchers that would give parents the ability to apply an amount of a per pupil allocation for tuition at private schools.
According to the Associated Press, a poll released by the Las Vegas Review-Journal over the weekend showed voters favoring Sandoval over Reid, 53 percent to 31 percent.
Washoe County Superintendent Heath Morrison said he received an encouraging start to the new school year, especially with the debate between Sandoval and Reid putting education at the forefront of major state issues.
“What I love about it is that the first debate was about education,” Morrison said. “Both candidates reached out … and showed they’re so invested in education. No matter who is elected, I hope they’ll continue to promote education and do what is best in the interest of all our kids.”
Gomm teacher Sonya Campbell, who teaches the fourth grade, said she hopes the next governor will understand the implications of larger class sizes, to which she returned in this her 27th year of teaching.
“It’s only the first day, but I can see it affecting (the kids’ learning),” Campbell said. “It makes it more difficult. Of course, I’m worried about this year, but more so next year.”
Campbell said the district’s budget has been an area of concern but she wants to keep its impacts away from students.
“We need to be doing what’s right by them,” she said.
Trustee Ken Grein of the district’s board of trustees said he thought the district would be off to a great start with its new strategic plan.
“I feel like we finally have a flight plan that’s been filed,” Grein said. “When you have a flight plan, you want to know where you’re going, what the steps are to get there. … The teachers and principals are excited … and (with Heath) you know we’re not backing off from reform.”
Back-to-school day seemed right on track otherwise, according to Morrison.
Students, parents and teachers returned on Monday to a number of changes, some of which were implemented this summer.
“It’s a great day,” Morrison said. “What I love is that the teachers were really excited and showing me our motto: ‘Every child, by name and face, to graduation.’ ”