Sheri Samson
Mineral County School District superintendent Walt Hackford (grey suit) with staff members. Hackford retired at the end of the school year after more than 30 years in education.

As superintendent Walt Hackford’s career ended with the Mineral County School District, employees made their way into his office for a final handshake and goodbyes, with well-wishers offering kind words, while still referred to him as “boss”.

Following a career which spanned over 30-years, Hackford was reflective about his last three years as superintendent of schools within the district.

He proudly stated an 80 percent graduation rate, which were some of the highest in the state. Also included were the strides made with curriculum alignment, as well as the Hawthorne Elementary School academic growth in student testing, which were the greatest numbers in the state. Schurz Elementary School showed improvement on their MAPS testing (Measure of Academic Progress) and a student incentive store was opened on their campus.

“New buses were quite a financial achievement,” Hackford shared, “which the district had not seen in well over 20 years. Then the accomplishment of the school bond allowed for a new Geo-Thermal heating and air conditioning system in every school and at the district offices, which will singularly create a $100,000 savings per year to the school district, while also providing a more efficient maintenance savings. These were two big items completed outside of the day-to-day educational responsibilities which brought a better, safer environment to our students and staff members.”

Safety issues were addressed under his leadership, with the installation of anchorman door locks, safety plans, safety teams, proper staff training and two risk management teams in place.

Hackford also stated that he had the best staffing in Nevada, adding that “grant funding has increased by a half a million in revenue to assist with district funding.”

“When our small district lost $265,000 in DSA (Distribution School Account) money for several years, our staff never lost their jobs. We held the line in retaining who we had employed and everyone pitched in to make it work. That was a tough pill to swallow for our educational teams, our School Board and in the finance department, but I am proud to say everyone continued to work together and we got through it.”

Despite the challenges within the structure of school business and educational requirements, Hackford stated that his favorite ties were with the teachers and the students. “I loved being around the kids – filling in where needed and cheering them on at games or at their concerts. And winning that state championship in basketball was a total highlight for me. I never won one as a player or as a coach, but I was in the stands to see it happen as their superintendent. I will never forget that moment.”

Hackford was proud that the positive momentum will continue, as more of the school’s aging buildings receive facelifts and campus groups, such as this year’s Junior High School Dream Team, expand. His personal life will be concentrating on traveling, camping, reading stacks of books which have awaited his retirement hours and wrapping up some health issues.

“With eleven years invested in this school district, I was the principal at each facility, then I finished up as superintendent. I can walk out knowing that I left Mineral County School District a better place than when I walked in.”