Matthew Montognese On The Issues

Washoe County needs a fresh set of eyes and ideas. Honesty, Integrity and Authenticity aren’t old school traits.

  • Community Unity And The Budget
    “Washoe County School District culture is in need of transformation. The expectation is higher than what is delivered as a whole and under-performing schools will no longer be tolerated. We pay taxes for each school in the district to be successful. Unity and trust must be restored between the district and our communities. Cohesiveness and collaboration can be championed to achieve common goals which transcend through our community in new innovations and positive relationships.”

The current organizational culture and climate of the Washoe County School District needs improvement. The trust must be rebuilt through transparency, accountability and honesty between the district, the community and the trustees of those whom entrusted them. The decisions trustees make should be responsibly focused on the child, the educator, the future and the community. These decisions should represent good judgement within reason and be sensitive to the best interest of the child, the teacher and the community. By listening to the input of teachers, parents and the community there is no longer isolation and community unity is strengthened. By being transparent there is nothing to hide. Honesty has always been a good guide and proven to prevail for benefit where it will not conceal for the purpose of deception or sophistry towards undue detriment. We know we mustn’t water down and be held accountable to our children’s proper education. Both in and out of the school we need a supportive, cooperative and unifying boost of value! I will vote to bring our communities together with the district. I would support any motion to create an independent budgetary review committee comprised of expert members of the community to review the budget. The money simply must go to the classroom. I don’t believe anyone of the board currently is a forensic accountant and a committee would look at the budget past and present to see if any mistakes were made. We all know how important transparency and accountability is and this step would move to show these core values. A review will further equip us to move forward with the budget. There are some lingering questions about the budget in the mind of the community so I think it prudent to check it out before prejudgement. The attitude of belief and purpose can be restored and the sense of pride renewed. This is our Reno, our children, our Washoe County, our District and there are many in the community waiting in the wings to support us and volunteer. We need to resuscitate our valuable youth programs. It’s time to encourage and reconnect community and no longer isolate it. Pumping money into failing schools has not worked and there is a need for systemic change. In the near future as more private and charter schools are created, there will be more school competition and if reform is not achieved quickly school choice will provide for our students needs and separate our communities as we will see overcrowding in “good schools” and an uneven balance from one schools attendance to the next.

Good Trustees can reconnect the community! Accessible trustees that spend time at schools will do this.

  • Student Focus “Time to focus on each student and when we realize a motivated student believes in their own unique meaningful purpose, potential and ability, we will know the propelling force of excitement that breeds success. Each child, regardless of ethnicity or diversity holds intrinsic value. We can elevate those in “the margin” as well as those outside “the margin“ where no one is marginalized, and margins are replaced with extraordinary student achievements, opportunity, sustained growth, gains and excellence.”

We see children light up the world when they get it. When they realize that “who they are” holds value, they will never be the same. By helping each child discover their own unique interests gifts, talents and competencies one child does not feel alienated, but propagates with great propulsion toward their future. With all children realizing they are special and valuable, no one child feels bigger or lesser than any other and esteem is precipitated throughout a new climate of culture as we reduce bullies. We follow up on this by providing the vital emotional, stress management, time management, interpersonal and soft skills, all of which developing children need and employers look for in hiring employees. We can not let our children get used to malaise. Mediocrity is the enemy and educational melancholy is the result of failure. Children need to know there is a unique and extraordinary purpose for their lives waiting to be unlocked that no standard or margin can explain. It will be necessary to understand more about the student and pass that info to the next teacher. I will vote to support focus of the whole of each student in every socio-economic position and close the nonsensical gap.

When we dig deeper into the core of our student we unlock unparalleled momentous potential.

  • Future Focus “It’s time for students to discover their future ambitions, set attainable goals of pursuit, plan for them, be prepared for them and then introduced to them. We must help guide each student by illuminating their path, revealing all options and placing tools in their hand. Young minds are our future, we need to lead them out of any stupor. We can not permit futures to be thrown away for lack of understanding.”

Our children face a real deficit if they leave school without a plan after graduation and our community faces a continued burden. Many students do not make it to graduation because they fizzle out before they find their own abilities or believe there is something they can aim at that will fulfill their meaningful desire and purpose. Our next generation needs to know their direction of trajectory to succeed and the proper tools to reach and invigorate our local economy. Children need personality and aptitude tests as well as economic courses to know who they are and confidently prepared for life. When children begin to know who they are before high school they can then plan a post -graduation A, B and C path earlier in high school. More than ever, all certifications, trade schools and internships need to be available to those who are not pursuing college. We need more comprehensive or enhanced programs that introduce children to all of the many options available that may fit them for their future. We must know more about our students by high school than the normal standard margin. There is extraordinary opportunity outside the margin. We need to have a growth portfolio profile of each child from k-12 and see them through to graduation. The child must know the “real world” awaits and the child must know their own potential to truly honor themselves as valuable and believe they can attain the remarkable. I will support a future focus for every child and this will support our community for the long haul.

We build the future of our students who build our communities!

  • Safe, Teacher Empowered & Enriched Schools “Our schools should be safe, our educators free to teach for depth and understanding, not merely be pressured to prepare students for constant and predictable test regurgitation for the sake of short term numbers vs long term functional purpose. We must relieve inequitable burdens placed on teachers and allow them to teach from insight, passion and creativity.”

Our precious teachers are pressured more than ever before away from creative “human aspect teaching” and the invigorating passion that all educators once enjoyed when they decided to teach should always be theirs and if lost, restored. I am an advocate for teachers, educators deserve good pay and benefits. We must find ways to increase the funding to the National Median and reduce class sizes. We can find ways to lead in new effective ideas and goals for school reform and through innovation in technology and emotional areas, we can provide more grants from government programs. Our teachers and students must be in a safe learning environment 24/7 and we can do this now. We must not tolerate any abuse to teachers by students and or abuse from students to students. Everyone deserves a good education and those that are disruptive must be given help early. If we believe in and revere the justice system in place for adults, that cannot govern themselves we must also do the same for our students to support a sense of moral obligation and expectation. Our teachers need the burden of resistance to teaching lifted away as soon as possible. All behavioral problems must be mitigated to allow a safe and healthy learning environment. Plans for the internal and external safety of our schools can be re-enforced as well as our technological platform and safeguarding. A child that doesn’t believe in themselves or have hope tends to be disruptive, let’s trade that in for opportunity afforded to each child. We must back-up, empower and support our Teachers and School Police Officers with the resources and assistance they need and remove interfering factors and barriers. We must value our school Employees and honor their contributions. Our educators are doing an excellent job, let’s give um a hand.  I will support any measure to give teachers the ability to teach objectively and creatively, because every child is different and every educator needs the freedom and latitude to teach. We must expand upon our core curriculum, and teachers as the subject matter experts will properly inform us on this. I would vote for a panel mixed with teachers, curriculum experts and the community to look at curriculum and send out surveys that request information from parents with their opinions and ideas of importance before curriculum reform. We must represent the community rightly and teach for truth, understanding and depth.

Take the handcuffs off teachers so they can do their work!

  • Character And Civic Duty For Students
    “Character for our kids is a basic fundamental value and a natural remedy to many of our behavioral problems when taught. Employers look for well rounded candidates. Character provides the structure strong students use to make good decisions for the rest of their lives. Without students knowing how to serve well and be well served, our institutions, occupations and communities will suffer, but we can correct this now. Character is honor respect and understanding for fellow man.

We can have our older kids strengths mentor younger kids weaknesses, leadership for the mentor and someone to look up to for the mentored. Children can be involved in role play to teach about peer pressure, ethics and citizenship. Student focus can help children find out who they are (identity) vs their idol (identity confusion). We can practice empathy by doing things like: role playing “a day in the life of a bullied child”, “a day in the life of a teacher”. We can have students go out of schools and help charities and provide services to our community e.g visit retirement homes, paint walls, etc. as part of learning responsibility and their civic duty. Character is the recipe to slow bullying and emotional maturity realizes we are all diverse and must include each diverse person with respect. We can bestow upon every child that another human should only be judged by character alone. We will then have children that will be strong, productive and responsible members of society. Many employers are missing this employable key trait known as character, in their potential candidates. This is a must-learn for the child before entry to our community and will bring our schools together. I will vote to create civic duty and character in our students.

Pull the weeds surrounding character by the root.


 I understand that the COVID pandemic situation must not be allowed to cripple our educational system. I understand the importance of planning ahead for the unpredictable and know this takes a comprehensive, cooperative approach. A well thought out phased A, B and C contingency plan is imperative. In this ever-changing world and especially in these unprecedented times, I understand that “all hands must be on deck to research and deliver the best technologically sound interactive platform, by which the student is educated, if it must be remote.” It is by far better to have the children in school and we all understand that, but as a community we must be of good attitude, very creative, responsible, nimble and flexible in order to overcome this pandemic and continue to deliver valuable and vital knowledge to our students, whether at school or remote. We will need to partner with technical industry leaders to find our best solutions. CDC guidelines protect those with underlying conditions so being responsible until we know more is important.

Other important issues that need eyes:

  • Suicide prevention
  • Low employee morale
  • Special Ed and services to Schools
  • Workload of educators
  • Educator need of increased pay and benefits
  • Cyber-bullying 
  • Drug program 
  • Information Technology and strategy 
  • Allow teachers to share ideas freely
  • Too much testing
  • Emotional health
  • Resource stewardship
  • Internal and external accountability
  • Mental health awareness and where to get help 
  • Comprehensive and updated discipline for poor behavior
  • Assessments review
  • Student voice and surveys
  • Community activities and after school programs 
  • Departments working together 
  • Improved relationship with Nevada, the DOE and the community
  • Healthy food 
  • Commission per pupil 
  • Not contracting out school services e.g. food services
  • Family wellness
  • Rezoning 6th to middle school
  • CTE integration with occupation
  • Community unity collaboration and volunteer work

And many more…

Superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill has stated her core beliefs are: Honesty, Integrity, Kindness and Transparency. 

I think we can all agree with this and push for more. We can ignite the child purpose, encourage their ability and let them let their light shine into the community.