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2015 Legislative Update For Week of 3/30/15
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Students, Legislators talk public education

HOPE, Better Education Today present Forum For Our Students on April 11
With so many important educational decisions being made this Legislative session, wouldn't it be great if lawmakers could hear straight from the students they are directly affecting?

On Saturday, April 11, from 10 a.m. to noon, HOPE, Better Education Today, and Clark County School District are sponsoring a Forum For Our Students. This unique community event opens the floor to students and their families to speak directly to lawmakers about essential educational topics that affect them. All of Nevada’s elected legislative officials are invited to come and hear first-hand what’s happening in schools and classrooms across Clark County.
 
We understand how hectic weekend schedules are, but we urge you to clear your Saturday morning so you and your children can attend this Forum. There are a number of issues before the legislature that will have an enormous impact on our children’s education and their futures. It is vital for our elected officials to hear about these issues from the people who are directly affected by their decisions.
 
Some of the topics before our Legislature this session include: teacher vacancies/long-term substitutes, limited or no access to preschool or full-day Kindergarten, lack of Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) programming, lack of English Language Learner (ELL) support, no funding for educational programs, etc.

If you — and especially your children — have personal experiences to share regarding any of these educational issues, please join us on April 11. The Senators and Assemblymen who will be present are eager to hear what you have to say.
 
Forum For Our Students
Saturday, April 11, from 10 a.m. to noon
East Las Vegas Community Center

250 N Eastern Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89101

RSVP now, and let us know what issues you want to discuss with our elected officials. Or, visit the Facebook event page for the Forum For Our Students.

Calls to action

Let lawmakers know what's on your mind

We're halfway through the 78th Legislative Session and the committees are moving their bills swiftly through their paces. This week, several educational bills of interest are scheduled to be heard. These bills have the potential to directly impact students. Please take a moment to voice your opinions to your Legislators — and don't forget to tell them you've got HOPE!

Monday, March 30
  • AB394 – The Assembly Committee on Education will hear AB394 at 3:30 p.m. This bill allows any incorporated city in the state to form its own school precincts within school districts or for contiguous school districts to combine. HOPE is neutral on AB394, however we feel there is the potential for a number of unintended consequences to such actions, therefore we do support SCR 6, a Senate Concurrent Resolution proposing to study the current composition of school districts in Nevada and the impact of redrawing district lines. To express your opinion to Legislators via the Opinion page, click here.
Tuesday, March 31
  • SB252 – The Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development hears SB252 at 3:30 p.m. This is the amended Business License Fee bill that proposes to improve Nevada's K-12 public education system and its revenue structure via a tiered scale based on gross receipts. HOPE issued a Resolution of Support for SB252 because we believe more money is needed to adequately fund our children’s education. Doing so, however, does not prevent us from supporting any additional amended or alternate funding mechanisms in the future, if it achieves the same goal in a more fair way.

    Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, District 11 – Las Vegas, and Assembly Minority Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick, District 1 – Las Vegas, are asking Nevadans what impact SB252 will have on their businesses. If you or someone you know owns a business, please take advantage of this opportunity to let your voices be heard. Fill out Sen. Ford's survey and Assemblywoman Kirkpatrick's survey here.
     
  • SB204 & SB504 – A joint meeting of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Education at 5 p.m. will hear both bills relating to bullying at school. SB204 provides protections from and preventions against bullying and cyber-bullying in public schools. SB504 amends provisions relating to a safe and respectful learning environment in schools. HOPE fully supports both bills. If your family has any personal experience with bullying in school, please share your story with Legislators in writing or in person. You may submit your testimony in .pdf format by 3:30 p.m. on Monday via email here, or testify personally in Room 4412 of the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, 555 E. Washington Ave.
Wednesday, April 1
  • AB303 – The Assembly Committee on Education will hear AB303 at 3:15 p.m. This bill removes the requirement that a student pass current end-of-course examinations in certain subjects, repeals the Common Core State Standards, and it would replace it with the state's previous standards. A similar bill repealing the Common Core standards is SB290. It replaces the Common Core standards with the Massachusetts standards from 2010 in math and English. There is currently no hearing set for SB290. HOPE is neutral on these bills; however, if passed, either bill will greatly impact your child’s education, so please express your opinion here

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.

Recently heard

Achievement School District to help underperforming schools succeed

Last Friday, the Assembly Committee on Education heard testimony from Dale Erquiaga, state Department of Education's superintendent of public instruction, supporting Assembly Bill 448. This bill authorizes the DOE to establish a new school district, the Achievement School District, that will take over persistently underperforming schools and transform them into a high-quality charter school.

AB448 is one of the Governor's education reform bills proposed in his 2015-2017 Budget to improve student achievement. Currently, there are 78 low-performing schools, 49 in CCSD, that are eligible to enter the ASD.

The state Board of Education and ASD director will determine which of these struggling schools will become part of the ASD each year. Once a school in the ASD is able to demonstrate adequate improvement, it can convert back to a regular public school, remain in the ASD, or apply for sponsorship to become a charter school outside of the ASD. This Achievement School District FAQ answers additional concerns and questions.

HOPE is neutral on this bill. We want all children to have access to high quality education, however we have a few concerns with the way the current bill is currently written. First, a process should be specified that allows parents the opportunity to give input, ask questions, and express concerns; second, AB448 should be written so that all children in the CCSD attendance zone for a school are moved to the Achievement School District and will continue to be enrolled in the school once it is moved.

If your child’s school is one of the 78 on the list above, please take the time to understand the impact this bill may have on your family and express your opinion here.

Nevada Youth Legislature now accepting applications

Calling all high schools students! Have you ever wanted to interact with your peers from across the state? Learn more about state government through personal experience? Serve your community, as well as fellow, young Nevadans? Have your voice heard in government? Now you can when you apply to become a Nevada Youth Legislator.

The Nevada Youth Legislature is composed of 21 high-school-age students who are selected from each of Nevada's senatorial districts. Each member of the Youth Legislature is appointed by a Nevada State Senator with input from members of the Nevada State Assembly.

The Nevada Youth Legislature is currently taking applications for all 21 seats, due April 27. Applicants must be in 9th to 11th grade during the first school year in which they will serve (for this application window it is the 2015-2016 school year).

If you have questions, please feel free to contact Tori Carreon at tori@victoriacarreon.net.

On the radar

Educational bills worth mentioning

  • AB291 – Allows for the school district to apply for state DOE funds to support early childhood education, specifically Kindergarten readiness. This is not part of the Governor's budget.
  • 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. The Assembly Committee on Education will hear this bill on April 6.
  • SB345 – Requires universal full-day Kindergarten in every public school, including charter schools. Kindergarten is not mandatory but all students would have access to it.
  • SB391 – This is the Read by 3rd Grade bill that requires school districts and charter schools to report to DOE number of 3rd graders retained each year.
  • SB397 – This bill implements the proposed changes to the Nevada Plan, or weighted funding formula, for English Language Learners and Free and Reduced Lunch students.
  • SB424 – This bill creates the K-12 Public Education Stabilization Account. It reallocates 50 percent of remaining fund balance money and reverts from the State Distributive School Account to a stabilization account for the future.
  • 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. Think of it as an I.O.U.
  • SB430Expands Zoom school program and the provision of programs and services to children who are limited English proficient or who are eligible for such a designation.
  • SB432 – Creates Victory Schools with goal of having students in poverty read at or above grade level, be ready for high school, and can graduate without the need for remediation. This is part of the Governor's budget.
  • 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.
  • SB491 – Provides a grant to recruit high-quality charter schools primarily for students below the Federal poverty line.
  • SB508 – Provides for long-term modernization of the Nevada Plan based on a weighted funding formula for ELLs, FRLs, Special Ed, and GATE.
  • SB509 – Makes various changes to provisions governing charter schools; it is a Charter Authority cleanup bill.
  • SCR1 – Creates an interim study concerning professional development of teachers and administrators during the 2015-2016 Interim.
  • SCR6 – A bill to study the current composition of school districts and the impact of redrawing district lines.

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 — www.hopefornevada.org. With your support, we will always have HOPE for Nevada's students!

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