Watch: The likely next Superintendent of WCSD talks about what kind of person she would want as second in command Reno Gazette Journal
Kristen McNeill introduced herself and her vision for the Washoe County School District in an online forum just days from likely being named to the top post over the education of 64,000 students.
“I will lead with my core values,” McNeill said, adding it is about doing “what’s in the best interest of our students. Sometimes those decisions aren’t popular.”
McNeill, who was named interim superintendent on July 1 after Traci Davis was fired, is expected to be permanently given the job by the school board at an April 28 meeting.
The school board suspended the national search for the top post amid the coronavirus pandemic.
McNeill, who has spent her career in education, has been a teacher and a principal. She worked her way up to one of the top administrators and was named the deputy superintendent in 2012 and then again under Davis in 2015.
She has a son in college and a daughter who is a high school senior.
Graduating seniors looking for closure
The virtual forum started just at Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year.
One of top questions asked of McNeill was about graduation ceremonies.
She said she and student leaders have discussed ideas including postponing ceremonies, a virtual ceremony and possibly a combination of both.
She said students are looking for some sort of closure to the end of high school.
“I say this as an interim superintendent and as a parent of senior. There is so much that our seniors have been building up to and so much they have missed.”
McNeill talked about progress under her leadership including improved staff morale, the completion of construction projects and having a better relationship with the Nevada Department of Education.
She said she will lead with core values. She said she is focused on a new and updated strategic plan with community and stakeholder input.
She also said she is working on the profile of a graduate and what students need to learn to go on to college, careers or the military. She also said she would work on family engagement community collaboration and making sure schools are equitable and inclusionary.
When asked about allegations of inflated graduation rates, McNeill said she stood by the district’s data.
“I have full faith that our schools are working extraordinarily hard,” she said.
As the district faces new challenges amid the coronavirus, McNeill said going into the next legislative session will be important.
She said when school returns, she is focused on what students and staff may need including emotional and social support.
She also said things such as year-round school and staggered school start times are all being considered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
She ended the hour-long forum by saying, “I love you. Be safe. Wash your hands. Social distance and we are going to get through this together.”
Siobhan McAndrew tells stories about the people of Northern Nevada and covers education in Washoe County. Read her journalism right here. Consider supporting her work by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.
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