Schools to seek partnership with community

Trustee Ron Swirczek presented to the Carson City School Board on Tuesday his vision for building partnerships with businesses and other community agencies.

"The goal is to improve the quality of education for all students by actively connecting with the community," he said.

Although fellow trustees have expressed their confusion as to how exactly it would be implemented, Swirczek pointed to other areas where networks of partnerships have been created to engage students outside of the classroom.

"The community is ready for this," he said.

Trustee Barbara Myers pointed to other regions, such as Long Beach, Calif., where programs like this have worked, the impetus has come from civic leaders rather than the school board.

"Do we have that support in place?" she asked. "I don't hear a clamor from civic leaders."

Swirczek assured fellow trustees the community would get behind the idea, reading letters of support from the mayor, chamber of commerce and the Northern Nevada Development Authority.

Trustee James Lemaire asked if the school district already participated in

partnerships with the community.

Associate Superintendent Susan Keema read through a lengthy list of alliances, from mentors for the senior projects to partners in career and technical classes and advisers in special programs.

Swirczek said he would like to see that expanded and started earlier in the school system.

"This expands on that mechanism," he said.

Students wouldn't be the only ones to benefit.

"We can share facilities, technology and knowledge without putting any further burden on resources," he said.

Carson City resident Gary Lyon, whose career has been in technology and is a community volunteer, urged the board to support the idea.

"I don't think you have an option," he said. "The basis for our economies to survive is we have to have creative people. The most effective method I've found for motivating students is mentoring one on one."

He said he would be willing to knock on doors or host parties at his house to get others involved.

Teacher Ben Contine urged the board to take the idea into further consideration.

"I pledge my support to this," he said. "We need to figure out what we want from the school district and pursue it relentlessly every day. That's our only chance."

Tammy Westergard, deputy director of the Carson City Library, also voiced her support and the support of the library.

She called it an opportunity to "bootstrap ourselves into a better future."

"Through these kinds of partnerships we will be preparing our children for a better tomorrow," she said.

The board voted to formally support the idea and further investigate the concept.

"You have my blessing," said trustee Lynnette Conrad. "I think it's a very good idea. I think there's a lot of things that need to be worked out."


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