Your letters

When is Enough Enough?

Dear NPRI:

What will it take for parents and taxpayers to say "enough is enough?" The future economic environment of Washoe County is highly dependent upon the quality of our education system, and dialogue about the school district is run and by whom establishes that level of quality.

The Washoe County School District hired the KPMG Peat Marwick firm to perform a $300,000 management and operations audit. The auditor produces a nicely detailed report and rated the District a mediocre "C"—the same rating the community, students and district employees developed when KPMG started the audit. The auditors highlighted that the community, students and district employees know they deserve and expect better performance from the district. That’s why the bond was defeated.

The auditors made 173 finding and 283 recommendations for improvement. The three volume report gave us a snap shot of what the district looks like now, but never gave us the root cause(s) of how the district got to/or remains mediocre. The Board of Trustees should be deciding the root cause(s) for mediocrity and taking firm action to regain the community’s, student’s and district employee’s confidence. But it appears the Board will not raise the issue and will press on with business as usual. The philosophy of "Don’t rock the boat!" seems to be their operating mode. More than likely, we’ll only see a few changes made here and there.

The audit report did offer a lot of clues why the district is not at a higher level of performance. There were clues in the report such as:

lacks clarity of focus and a single, galvanizing purpose

mission and vision statements failed to resonate with district employees and the community

community and district employees are frustrated with the approach to strategic planning

ambiguous responsibilities among the employees so no one is accountable

lack of an employee evaluation system based on specific performance and results

lack of accountability tools to ascertain proper and efficient operations and productivity

lacks integration of programs

lacks assessment of programs

too much reliance on an excessive quantity of committees

In short, "The district needs sorely to enhance accountability in nearly every aspect of its operations."

I believe the Board of Trustees should now take the bull by the horns and change out the district’s superintendent. We need a bold, dynamic, disciplined and proven leader with management skills and a strong business acumen to regain the confidence of the district’s stakeholders and make the necessary improvement to lift the district’s performance out of mediocrity.

Sincerely,

Richard Hawkins
Reno

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