Four-Day School Week: Beginning Monday, Aug. 22, Mineral County School District (MCSD) will be welcoming our students back to school. We truly hope that the children from our community have had a fun and relaxing summer vacation and are anxious to begin a new school year. Our teachers and principals are excited to welcome your children back to school and we all look forward to another great school year.
This year, Mineral County School District will be implementing the new four-day work week. All schools within our school district, including: Hawthorne Elementary School, Hawthorne Jr. High and Mineral County High school will be extending their instructional hours from Monday – Thursday each week to compensate for a loss of instruction time on Fridays. Schurz Elementary will remain on the traditional five-day school week, as in previous years.
Indeed many, if not most, rural school districts throughout Nevada have gone to the four-day schedule in an effort to save money and increase student academic performance. Instructional time stays the same with extended hours each day, Monday – Thursday. Fridays are now reserved for athletics, extracurricular activities, and teacher staff meetings, workshops, and in-service. We would invite all parents to please schedule, as best as you can, all doctor and dental appointments for your children on a Friday. We would ask our teachers and principals to do the same.
The four-day school week will be on a probationary status for all schools in Hawthorne this year. What drives all of our decisions in our school district is always student academic achievement. We will be monitoring student achievement data very carefully this upcoming year. If grade level academic growth is unsuccessful, we will certainly consider going back to a five-day week next year. However, historically speaking, most rural school districts that have transitioned to the four-day week on a probationary basis, never go back to the traditional five-day week. All stakeholders within small districts come to prefer the four-day week after the initial trial period. We shall assess the success of this new schedule at the end of this year and see how our parents, teachers, students and community feel as this year progresses. As Superintendent, I can assure all that the MCSD Board of Trustees and I will be monitoring student achievement data very closely and give careful consideration to this transition.
School begins on Monday, Aug. 22: Mineral County High School and Hawthorne Jr. High will begin school at 8 a.m. and release at 3:40 p.m. Hawthorne Elementary School will begin at 8:10 a.m. and will release at 3:15 p.m. Schurz Elementary will begin at 8 a.m. and release at 2:45 p.m. Each school has sent a letter home with bell schedules and bus schedules. You may call the schools for more information if you wish. Hawthorne Elementary, 945-1000; MCHS/HJH, 945-3333 and Schurz Elementary, 773-2323.
New Principal at Mineral County High School and Hawthorne Jr. High: We would like to welcome our newest member of the MCSD administrative team, Mr. Jeff Wales. Mr. Wales comes to MCHS/HJH with eight years of experience as Staff Sargent in the U.S. Air Force and 23 years of experience in education. He previously taught high school music and band for nine years; he was an Assistant Principal for eight years (two years at Pahrump Valley High School and six years at Washoe High School). He has also served as a principal for one year at Rosemary Clark Middle School, Pahrump; and has recently worked for the past four years at the Nevada Department of Education as the Adult Education/Alternative Education Director.
Mr. Wales comes highly recommended from all whom I have spoken with over the past three months. Many people from within the education community in Nevada have spoken favorably of Mr. Wales and have congratulated Mineral County School District for recruiting and hiring such a high quality administrator. I am excited to welcome Mr. Wales to our district and would invite all parents and community members to stop by the high school and visit with Mr. Wales. I’m sure that you will also recognize what a tremendous asset that he will be for our students and teachers.
Bond Question on November Ballot: Mineral County School District has faced a funding crisis over the past two years. And although it seems almost constant for our school district to be in financial despair, these past two years have been crippling. The new state formula for school funding has imposed severe cuts in our overall budget.
We lost $269,000 in state funding last year and, again this year. After numerous appeals and local petitions to our state legislators and the Nevada Department of Education, we have been denied our repeated requests for additional funding. Consequently, we were forced to cut a music and band teacher, a principal, alLibrarian, a computer teacher and slash our operational and supply budgets within our school district. These cuts have hurt our students and have been truly devastating to Mineral County School District. What makes these reductions more painful is the fact that we lost $550 per student in funding, while Storey County lost $110 per student in funding, but all other school districts in Nevada received increases in state funding, per their pupil enrollment.
This summer, MCSD has invested thousands of dollars for necessary facility upkeep and repair. We have replaced our boiler stack at the high school at the cost of $26,000. The old boiler stack was 75 years old and rusted to the point of collapse. We had no choice but to replace this stack. We have resurfaced the parking lots at Schurz Elementary and Hawthorne Elementary School at the cost of $24,000. The cracks in our parking lots were numerous and expanding to the point of becoming a tripping hazard for our students, employees, and parents. We’ve replaced the roof of the gym at the Arlo K. Funk District Office and have made repairs on the roof at the high school. The boiler at the Arlo K. Funk District Office has a crack that will cost $13,000 to repair – and we have no choice but to repair this boiler, as it is our only source of heat in this building – which is still used by all of our Hawthorne students, daily. The shingles on the roof of the high school (the upper section of the main building) need replacement desperately. The back-up generator at Schurz Elementary needs a new oil pump that will cost $15,000. All said, we have several older buildings within our school district and costly repairs are forthcoming and inevitable. We need help from our community if we have any chance to make these improvements over the years, as needed.
I am asking that all of our Mineral County community members unite in support of our school district and vote in favor of the School Bond Question on the November election ballot. Legally speaking, none of these bond funds can divert towards teacher salaries or benefits. All bond funding must be allocated for facility repair or renewal.
Furthermore, local taxes shall not increase in anyway if the school bond is passed. Current bond monies will continue to be allocated and divided between Mineral County and Mineral County School District, as they have been for many years. We greatly support Mineral County and are happy to share in bond revenue with them. The local tax burden will not increase if the bond is passed, nor will the local tax burden decrease if the school bond does not pass. Absolutely no changes shall be incurred by our local citizens if this bond is passed.
Simply put, our school district is in great need for this bond to pass in November. If it does not pass, we’ll be forced to drain our currently depleted resources and divert into building maintenance and repair over the next ten years – and our kids will lose even more programs, teachers, and supplies. Spread the word around Mineral County that we need community support in this matter. We need the support of the people in Schurz, Walker Lake, Hawthorne, Mina and Luning to act on Election Day, VOTE “YES” FOR THE SCHOOL BOND ISSUE.
More information is forthcoming on this matter. Thank you all, in advance, for your support of our school district.