2015 Legislative Update For Week of 5/11/15
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Weekly Update


Get up and go

HOPE travels to D.C., then Carson City

Education advocates speak with Legislators about Nevada's students
Last week, HOPE President Jenn Blackhurst traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with Scott Hughes, the Legislative Assistant responsible for Education for Rep. Joe Heck, and Jason Unger, the Legislative Director responsible for Education for Sen. Harry Reid. They talked about Title 1 funds Nevada students are not receiving.

So why isn't Nevada getting all the Federal money it can for its students, HOPE asked? Bottom line: It takes money to make money.

Nevada doesn't spend nearly enough on education to claim all the Federal dollars available, especially compared to states like Massachusetts and Minnesota that spend $15,000 per-pupil — a far cry from our meager $5,457 per student in Federal dollars for 2014. This figure varies from year to year; the only stable dollar amount we can rely on is DSA per-pupil figure. (The Guinn Center for Policy Priorities provides a useful graphic of the current state of funding for Nevada here.)

This week, HOPE stays at the State level and travels to Carson City for meetings with freshman Assemblymen Gardner, Armstrong, Nelson, and Trowbridge. We hope to gather more information on AB394, the bill that will break up CCSD into five precincts; the alternative tax plans; and gain more support for education funding.

Distributive School Acount

K-12 Ed budgets begin closing process

Session nears end, committees wrap up work on funding education
As the 78th Session of the Nevada Legislature draws to a close, several markers must be met. When the Economic Forum's predictions are delivered, the process of prioritizing where that money should go begins. The Joint Subcommittee on K-12 Funding met last Monday to start the process of closing out its budgets brought forth by the Nevada Department of Education. It will continue this process on Thursday and then will finalize education budgets at a special meeting on Saturday.

The joint subcommittee expanded the funding the NDOE receives over the biennium. The following items were approved, according to the May 8 Nevada Succeeds Legislative Update:
  • State match for the Federal Pre-K program, $10.3 million
  • Funding for the Social Impact Bond Feasibility Study, $25,000
  • Funding for AP Exams and Professional Development, $1.2 million
  • Staff position for the Great Teaching and Leading Fund, $225K
  • Staff for bullying positions and evaluation, $600K
  • Staff positions for Nevada Ready 21 contingent upon passage, $375K
  • Smarter Balanced Assessment w/different vendor, $8.9 million
  • Staff for Victory and Turnaround Schools, contingent upon passage, $500K
  • One Time Social Worker/Mental Health screener and evaluation, $229K
  • Read by 3 positions and evaluations, contingent upon passage, $432K
  • Infinite Campus for all of Nevada, $3.5 million
  • Testing and Data Security, $500K
  • School Performance Framework Enhancements, $670K
In addition to the recently-approved budgets above, we are still HOPEful that our base funding is reformed to address more adequate dollars in comparison with the rest of the nation. 

Seen and heard

Bills must move it or lose it by Friday

Another major deadline is fast approaching: May 15 is the Committee Passage, Second House deadline. This deadline marks the point when bills must be passed out of committee on the other side of the Legislature from where they originated or else they will be declared dead. Exempt bills, of course, are not required to meet these same deadlines; their fiscal impact to the budget is still being considered in the money committees prior to final approval by the end of the Session.

Follow up

  • SB208 – Requires charter schools to provide at least 45 days notice (originally 90) before opening to a lottery to all community members (originally parents and guardians) who live within 2 (originally 3) miles of the campus. This bill is meant to ensure local residents can enroll children in new charter schools in their communities. A work session was held on May 4 and the bill passed unanimously. It now moves to Assembly floor.
  • SB390 – This bill gives charter school lottery preference to students who are zoned for schools that are more than 25 percent overcrowded. A work session was held on May 4 and the bill passed unanimously. It now moves to Assembly floor.
  • SB411 – Allows any county or school district in the state to form a Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee that recommends new tax sources that will raise additional funds for school construction. It was heard on May 5 with wide support; a work session will be scheduled soon.
  • SB391 – The Read by 3rd Grade bill provides support services for early grades with a focus on improving literacy rates and requires school districts and charter schools to report the number of third graders retained each year to the Nevada Department of Education. It passed unanimously in a work session on May 5 and moves to Senate floor next.
  • SB405 – Enhances ZOOM School funding for landmark program providing free quality Pre-K, full-day Kindergarten, ELL reading centers, and an extended school year with necessary transportation. ZOOM schools also act to provide incentives to fill our teacher vacancies. It passed unanimously in the work session on May 5 and moves to Senate floor.
  • SB432 – Creates Victory Schools with goal of having students in poverty read at or above grade level, are ready for high school, and graduate without the need for remediation. This is part of the Governor's budget. The bill is exempt and was heard in a work session on May 5 where it passed 7-0, and now moves to Senate floor.
  • SB474 – Creates the Great Teaching and Leading Fund in the state budget. Funds can be used for professional development, teacher and leader recruitment and preparation, and peer assistance and review. It was heard in a work session on May 5 where it passed along party lines, 4-3, with amendments. It will be heard on Senate floor next.
  • AB448 – This bill authorizes the DOE to establish a new school district, the Achievement School District, that will take over persistently under-performing schools and transform them into a high-quality charter school. It was heard in Assembly Ways and Means on May 5 and a work session is scheduled soon.
  • AB485 – Transfers the STEM advisory council to the Governor's office of Science, Innovation, and Technology from the Department of Education. The bill was heard in Assembly Ways and Means with no action on May 5.
  • SB75 – Ensures students attending year-round schools have the same amount of instructional time prior to taking academic assessments. It was heard in a work session on May 6 and passed unanimously. It moves to Assembly floor next.
  • AB421 – Creates the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission for public education in this State for 2015-16. The Commission will consist of 12 members with business experience, and will examine spending with goals to streamline spending and improve the quality of education. It was heard on May 7 and a work session will follow.
  • SB429 – Makes a supplemental appropriation of $77.7 million to the State DSA from the State General Fund for a shortfall resulting from unanticipated increase in K-12 enrollment for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. It was in a work session on May 7 where the appropriation was reduced to $62.2 million due to other revenues. It passed unanimously and moves to Senate floor.

Your two cents

Contact Legislators

Getting in touch with your legislators is easy and they really do want to hear from you. Your opinions help shape our laws. And don't forget to mention you're a member of HOPE!
  • The Share Your Opinion page offers a form for one-stop communication with minimal effort and no searching for legislator contact information.
  • Contact Senators and Assemblypeople directly. Each branch of the Legislature has all the contact information for its members listed on one page.

Coming up this week

Tuesday, May 12
  • AB278 – Requires the Department of Education to develop certain policies, procedures and guidance related to class-size reduction. It will be heard at 3:30 p.m. in Senate Committee on Education.
  • SB332 - Allocates $1 million for each year of the biennium to support the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program in Clark County and Washoe County. It will be heard at 3:30 p.m. in Senate Committee on Education.
  • AB351 – This bill allows 3-star charter schools to access the bonding provisions created in 2013 and says that schools only need to maintain the ratings for two preceding years instead of three. It will be heard at 3:30 p.m. by Senate Committee on Education.
  • AB374 - Requires high school counselors/staff to meet annually with students, review progress and determine the student's college and career-ready path. It will be heard at 3:30 p.m. by Senate Committee on Education.
  • AB447 – Recommends that teacher evaluations are weighted according to the Teachers and Leaders Council: 25 percent comes from local assessments and another 25 percent from statewide assessments. It will be heard at 3:30 p.m. by Senate Committee on Education.
Wednesday, May 13
  • SB394 – Proposes to break up the Clark County School District into at least five precincts, governed by a council, in time for the 2017-18 school year. It had its second revision on May 6 in Assembly Committee on Education and will be heard in a work session at 3:15 p.m.
  • SB463 – This is the Nevada version of the Student Privacy Pledge that sets rules about how student data is protected. Any student over the age of 16 may see his/her own records, any student younger than 16 has to have a parent or guardian view the data. Violations of the privacy rules will result in fines. It passed the Senate unanimously and will be heard in a work session at 3:15 p.m. in Assembly Education Committee.
Thursday, May 14 and Saturday, May 16
  • The Subcommittee on K-12/Higher Education/CIPS will continue to close out the NDOE Budgets on Thursday at 8 a.m. Then on Saturday at 8 a.m., the full Senate Committee on Finance and Assembly Committee on Ways and Means will finish closing the rest of the education Budgets. The ed budgets on the agenda are: 2610, the Distributive School Account; 2615, the School Remediation Trust Fund; 2617, the State Supplemental School Account; 2618, professional development programs; and 2699, other State Education programs.

Stay informed during the session by using the Nevada Electronic Legislative Information System (NELIS). It offers access to Bills, Budgets, and Committees, a useful Calendar, contact information for Senate and Assembly members, and you can also sign up for Personalized Legislative Tracking

And now, if you miss anything, archived videos of past meetings and floor sessions are available for viewing.

The spotlight
on policy change

HOPE's Top 5 Goals

What does HOPE want? We want to see change in areas that will improve the chances of a better education for our current and future students. Our platform is broad and inclusive:
  • Pre-K for under-resourced children
  • Universal full-day Kindergarten
  • Embedded and collaborative Professional Development
  • Funding Formula reform and a Stabilization Account
  • Rollover bonds for school construction and refurbishment

The voice
for our children

We all need HOPE!

HOPE is guided purely by the goal to provide the best education possible for all students in the state. Our parent advocacy group formed in 2014 to fill the void where family and community involvement was largely missing. Our membership allows us to offer a unified voice representing families and community members all over Southern Nevada. It also helps educate and inform local and state level decision-makers and legislators on specific needs of students and teachers in Clark County and beyond.

Share HOPE with your friends and ask them to sign up today to become a member — With your support, we will always have HOPE for Nevada's students!

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