2015 Legislative Update For Week of 5/18/15
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Weekly Update

 

Closing costs

K-12 education budgets finalized

Governor's education initiatives now await funding to come to fruition
Back in January, when Gov. Brian Sandoval unveiled his $7.4 billion budget — with $2.83 billion in spending from the Distributive School Account, the main source of funding for Nevada's education system — there was a lot of speculation as to whether his ambitious plan for much-needed education reform and student achievement would materialize.

But after last Saturday's lengthy joint meeting with the Senate Committee on Finance and Assembly Committee on Ways and Means, there is little doubt as we saw the majority of the Governor's agenda being supported and passed. The Department of Education's DSA budgets are the largest single account in the General Fund, taking up 30 percent of the total. By the end of the meeting, there was an increase in funding for both old and new educational programs totaling approximately $680 million.

However, it's not a done-deal yet. The Legislature continues the debate over how to raise enough revenue to meet that goal. Until they figure that out, these are still just "wish list" items.

The following list is a portion of the budgeted education items that closed on Saturday. The amounts are in addition to the the $2.83 billion allocated for basic per-pupil funding, with funding levels shown for the next two years:
  • Full-day Kindergarten state-wide exansion, $36.5 million
  • State match for Federal Pre-K program, $10.3 million
  • Zoom schools, $100 million
  • Victory Schools, $50 million
  • Turnaround Schools, $5 million
  • Read by Three Initiative, $27.5 million
  • Increased funding for students with disabilities, $25 million
  • Increased funding for Gifted and Talented Education, $10 million
  • Special education weight of $25 million
  • Great Teachers and Leaders Fund, $10 million
  • Social workers in schools, $36 million
Not all budget's items made it through without some cutting, though. Approximately $70 million was slashed from the Governor's list. For example, The Nevada Ready 21 program, designed to increase student access to laptops and notebook computers, was proposed for $23.2 million but received $20 million; and the Class Size Reduction budgets was $56.2 million less than what was initially proposed.

Top 5 leaderboard

Hard work pays off

What does HOPE count on? We HOPE our members will help spread the word that Nevada's students deserve positive change in areas that will improve the chances of a better education now and in the future. Our platform is broad and inclusive.

We're beyond thrilled that in HOPE's inaugural year, each of our goals has been heard in Session:
  • Pre-K for under-resourced children. The NDOE's Other State Education Programs ✔︎ Budget 2699 was passed by Joint Committee of Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means on May 16, but still awaits actual funding.
  • Universal full-day Kindergarten. The NDOE's School Remediation Trust Fund ✔︎ Budget 2615 was passed by Joint Committee of Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means on May 16, but still awaits actual funding.
  • Embedded and collaborative Professional Development. SB474 creates the Great Teaching and Leading Fund in the state budget. ✔︎ Budget 2618 for Professional Development Programs passed the Joint Committee of Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means on May 16, and like other budgets, still awaits funding. SCR1 also creates an interim study concerning PD for teachers and administrators during the 2015-2016 Interim.
  • Funding Formula reform and a Stabilization Account.
    ✔︎ Budget 2610, the Distributive School Account, passed the Joint Committee meeting on Saturday also, and like the rest of the budgets, awaits funding via SB252 or an alternative plan such as AB464. On the bill side is SB397, the "new" Nevada Plan that requires weighted funding for ELL and FRL students; SB424 creates a K-12 Public Education Stabilization Account that reallocates half of remaining fund balance money from DSA to a stabilization account for the future; and SB508 provides for long-term modernization of the Nevada Plan (per-pupil funding) based on a weighted funding formula for ELL, FRL, Special Ed, and GATE students.
  • Rollover bonds for school construction and refurbishment. ✔︎ SB119 and ✔︎ SB207 were both signed into law by Gov. Sandoval. We now have not one but two (!!) laws enacting the rollover bond to fund new construction and improvements at existing schools.
* The ✔︎ indicates a bill that has become a law or a budget was passed.

Reach out

Legislators still need to hear from you


Well, lookie at the General Fund with its lovely $2.2 billion in allocated funds for K-12 education over the next two years. It's a beautiful thing, isn't it? For education activists like our HOPE members it is a sight to behold, but it's also kinda like getting all dressed up with no where to go. You know what we mean?

No?!

You see, all these budget closings and approved funds for the Governor's ambitious education initiatives are really super, except they don't mean anything until there is a way to pay for them. And that's where good ol' SB252, AB464, or an amended or combined alternative plan comes in. Without a way to create the $2.2 billion dollars needed to fund all these bright, shiny new budgets, nothing happens — not a state-wide full-day Kindergarten program, not a professional development program, not a weighted funding or increased per-pupil figure. Nada.

A great way to ensure that the tremendous footholds we have gained so far don't disappear into the Legislative ethereal mist is to write your Legislators and the specific members of the money committees (Senate Finance, Assembly Ways and Means) to encourage them to continue to support funding education and to thank them for all their hard work. Your opinions help shape our laws. Tell them what you think! And don't forget to mention you're a member of HOPE!

I'm just a Bill

He signed you Bill, now you're a Law


Our old friend Bill from Schoolhouse Rock represents the process a bill takes to become a law on the national level. On a similar path, the following list of bills has made it through the "long, long journey" in our Nevada State Legislative process and have been signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval. (Click the image below for a blast from the past and a great review of the trip a bill takes to cross the finish line.)
  • SB207 – The “clean” school construction rollover bond bill, was introduced as an "emergency bill.” It did not have the removal of prevailing wage requirement language in it. Signed into law by Governor on March 4, 2015.
  • SB119 – Provides for a 10-year rollover of a school construction bond, but it also contains a provision for removal of prevailing wages paid to skilled workers for those same state-funded school construction projects. Signed on March 6, 2015.
  • AB165 – Establishes the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program. Payroll and Modified Business Tax payers can donate funds to this private program in the form of a scholarship and get a tax credit. Signed on April 13, 2015.
  • AB30 – Adjusts how the State Department of Education measures literacy rates and it also allows for principals to request support for student success. Signed on May 11, 2015.
  • AB27 – Allows all properly credentialed non US citizens to become full-time licensed teachers in Nevada K-12 schools. Signed on May 13, 2015.
  • SB504 – Allows for a safe and respectful learning environment for students as well as administrators, teachers, and support staff in public schools, and creates an Office of Safe and Respectful Learning Environment within the DOE. Sent to Governor's office on May 14, 2015.

Follow up

Assembly Bills
  • AB107 – Requires the State to report out subgroup data for FRL students in terms of their academic achievement, retention rates, graduation rates, dropout rates, and assessment scores. It was heard in a work session on May 12 and passed without opposition; next stop, Assembly floor.
  • AB166 – Establishes a state seal to be put on a diploma for biliteracy for students who are proficient in English and another language besides English. After a work session May 15 with an amendment regarding location of seal, bill moves to Senate floor.
  • AB234Multicultural education bill requires program by State Board of Education for students in grades 2-12. Also requires teachers to take a course in teaching multicultural education. It was heard on May 14 with full approval and moves to Assembly floor.
  • AB278 – Requires the Department of Education to develop certain policies, procedures and guidance related to class-size reduction. It passed out of a work session on May 12 without amendments or opposition and moves to Senate Finance.
  • AB351 – Allows three-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 was heard in a work session on May 12 and passed unanimously.
  • 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 12 in a works session and passed 7-0 and moves to Senate floor.
  • AB461 – Provides for an individual high school graduation plan to allow certain students enrolled in a public high school to remain enrolled for an additional period to work towards graduation. It was heard on May 13 in a work session, and received a do pass as amended.
  • 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. A work session was held on May 14 and it was approved unanimously.
  • 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 amended to limit the ASD enrollment to an opt-out system. The bill passed on May 14 with some opposition and moves to Assembly floor.
Senate Bills
  • SB302 – Establishes a universal education savings account (ESA) from the DSA to be used towards private schools, religious schools, homeschooling, transportation, or other alternative forms of education. These Educational Savings Accounts could be used for tuition, textbooks, tutoring and college savings, among other expenses. It was heard in Senate Finance on May 14 and will have a work session soon.
  • 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 passed out of a work session on May 12 with a minor amendment and moves to Senate Finance.
  • 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 by the Senate and passed in a 20-1 vote on May 15.
  • 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 was in a work session on May 15 and passed 9 to 5.
  • 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 on May 16 in Senate and passed unanimously.
  • SB483 – This bill would make temporary rates on payroll taxes and sales tax permanent. The "sunset taxes" were created in 2009 and lawmakers have temporarily extended them every two years. The bill could raise more than $600 million from the payroll taxes and a $1 tax increase on cigarettes. It was heard on May 16 and passed 18-3.
  • SB508 – Provides for long-term modernization of the Nevada Plan (per-pupil funding) based on a weighted funding formula for ELL, FRL, Special Ed, Kindergarten and GATE students, as well as average daily attendance, starting in the 16-17 school year. It was heard on May 16 in Senate Finance.

Coming up this week

 
Tuesday, May 19, at 8 a.m.
  • SB429 is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. SB429 makes a supplemental appropriation of $62.2 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.
Tuesday, May 19, upon adjournment
  • SB391 and SB405 are scheduled to be heard in a work session by the Assembly Committee on Education. SB391 is the Read by 3rd Grade bill that provides support services for early grades with a focus on improving literacy rates. It also requires school districts and charter schools to report the number of third graders retained each year to the Nevada Department of Education. SB405 enhances ZOOM School funding for landmark programs 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.

Final laps

Finish line in sight

We're nearly at the end of the 78th Session with only a few weeks left to go. Bills have passed through committees in both houses, budgets are closed, and deadlines keep coming. So much action and yet we still have some distance to cover before reaching the finish line.

The next important date on the 120-day Legislative Calendar is the Second House Passage, on May 22, 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 budget bills, however, have until May 27 to be voted out of committee. By this point, Legislators will know how much is in the current budget and if any money needs to be raised or if any programs need to be cut to make a balanced budget.

All action on these decisions must be completed by the end of the 120th day of the session, which is midnight, June 1. If not, a special session will be called to extend the time the Legislature has to finish its business.

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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