On Aug. 1 the Mineral County School Board voted to require high school students in the district to pass Chemistry before they graduate.
Incoming freshmen, who will graduate in 2017, will be the first class required to pass chemistry.
The vote was 3-1. Beatrice McMillan-Conway was the only member of the board who voted against the proposal.
Nevada mandates high schools require students pass two high school lab sciences before they graduate. Current Mineral County High School students only need to pass one — biology.
While chemistry isn’t explicitly required by the state, it’s implicitly required. Questions about chemistry appear on the high school exit exam. Students don’t get a diploma unless they pass the exam.
“The students are going to be tested on it,” Chris Schultz, Mineral County School District Superintendent said. “If you don’t teach them
what they’re going to be tested on, you’ve done them a disservice.” Schultz said some people argue chemistry is not useful in real life,
or that it’s too boring or too difficult to for MCHS students to pass.
“How does that argument stand up against the truth — the fact — that they’re going to be tested on fundamental chemistry principles,”
Schultz said. “And if they don’t know them and can’t apply them, they won’t graduate because they can’t pass the exam?”
Schultz said he expects the district’s targeted intervention program to help weaker students pass chemistry, if they need it.
“We have a targeted intervention program where we’re going to find the kids that are struggling, and we’re going to give them extra help after school, and we run a late bus to get those kids home,” Schultz said. “We started it last spring, it’s already showing tremendous impact. Why is it we can’t help kids learn chemistry?”
Schultz said some of the students in Mineral County are smart enough to turn their grades around with about half an hour of extra work each night.
“The standards we have in education are so much lower than we arecapable of achieving,” Schultz said. “We have kids getting D’s and F’s in school right now who could be getting A’s and B’s with marginally more effort.”
The board also agreed to a number of staffing adjustments Schultz suggested. The adjustments will eliminate three teacher’s aide
Layoffs, however, may not be necessary. Schultz said there are more than three positions open in the district, and that aids whose positions are being eliminated are welcome to apply for those positions, if they have the skills and desire to fill them.
At the board’s summer retreat in July Anne Kee, the union representative to the district, said no lay-offs would be necessary
because of these adjustments.
Schultz said these kinds of adjustments in staffing are necessary every year, to make sure the district is spending its money in the
best possible way.
The board also accepted Schutlz’ yearly performance evaluation. The vote was unanimous and the acceptance was unconditional, although Donna Galzier, board member, asked to put an item on the agenda to write a memorandum of understanding at the next board meeting, which will lay out what the board expects of Schultz.
The board, however, couldn’t agree on whom to hire to fill the spot left vacant by the resignation of board member Barbara Lancaster.
Three people applied for the position and two showed up for their interviews. Casey Kee of Walker Lake and Tammie Merritt were the
applicants who appeared to be interviewed.
Both applicants were turned down in 2-2 votes: Glazier and McMillan-Conway supported Casey Kee, board president Mark Nixon and
Keith Neville Merrit.
The position will be advertised again, and the board will accept more applications.