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Nevada students are returning to classrooms this fall, and each school district has its own set of challenges.

Lincoln County, directly north of Clark County, is sparsely populated. Its size is just over 10,600 square miles, with a population density of about one-half person per square mile.

There are nine schools in the district, which served just under 1,000 students last academic year. Pam Teel is the superintendent of the Lincoln County School District. 

She told KNPR's State of Nevada that unlike school districts in Clark and Washoe County, they are actually seeing a decline in the number of students. Some of that decline is in the number of kindergarteners enrolled, but also some of it is from families leaving the district.

Like most rural counties around the state, Lincoln County has a big problem when it comes to transportation. Some students have to be bussed two hours each day to school.

"It's the best way to get those students to an education," Teel said.

The district moved to a four-day school week a few years ago to help alleviate the transportation headaches. 

Another problem that school districts around the state are dealing with is mental health. In rural districts, it is often access to care that can be a problem. Teel said collaboration with bigger districts like Clark County is a necessity to getting services. Another important component is getting the information about where to get help out to the community.

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"I don't think that everyone in Lincoln County understood how many entities the community had, and offerings that we had, until we had a consistent list and that's been good," she said. 

Teel also said one of the biggest challenges for a rural district like hers is recruiting teachers and staff. She said most of the people who work in the district have either grown up there or have some kind of a tie to the area.

"Recruiting is very tough in a rural area because you have to understand and want to be willing to live in a rural area," she said.

Another stumbling block for Teel is making sure students get the education they need for the future.

"As always, making sure that we are doing the best with curriculum, and aligning it with assessment so that we can stay current with the practices that are going on, so that students do graduate in areas that they can be successful in," she said.

 

Guests

Pam Teel, superintendent, Lincoln County School District

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