Low-income children often arrive at kindergarten already behind affluent children. They may not have the vocabulary, knowledge of colors and shapes, or social skills that children with different family circumstances have acquired. Children from families that don’t speak English at home may also be at a disadvantage. But preschool can help level the playing field by providing the developmental boost that low-income and ELL students need to succeed in school.
The goal of the reorganization is to locate decision-making at the school level. School principals, working with teachers and parents, will have more flexibility in selecting curriculum, organizing schedules, and incorporating non-academic activities into the school day. At least, that’s the vision behind the reorganization legislation. But getting from vision to reality can be difficult and will require considerable effort on the part of all CCSD stakeholders.
Safe and secure environments do not exist in some schools in Northern Nevada. For example, students and teachers in one Washoe County school have been given strict orders not to make holes in building walls since that could release dangerous levels of asbestos into the air. Lead was discovered in the flooring and asbestos in the subsurface of the gym floor in the same school.
The $1.2 million contract caught some legislators and concerned parents by surprise. Several members of the Legislative Advisory Committee complained about having one day to review all documents pertaining to the $1.2 million proposal. Legislators also wondered why there was no Request For Proposals (RFP), which would have made this contract subject to a competitive bid process.
It has never been more important to focus on enhancing parental engagement in Nevada, and specifically Clark County, where parents will soon be playing a key role in the operation of their schools under the Clark County School District (CCSD) reorganization. Under the plan, each school will be governed by an organizational team made up of teacher, staff, principals, and parents. That means parents will be making recommendations about school budgets, improving student achievement, and even which principals to hire. Parent participation holds incredible promise and is central to the success of the organization.
On October 11, 2016, Governor Sandoval called for a legislative special session to work out funding for a new NFL stadium, upgrades to the LV Convention Center, and more police officers. We are grateful Governor Sandoval did not include ESA vouchers in the special session. This is a complex issue that needed time to carefully evaluate all components to the bill.
The Nevada Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in the Lopez v. Schwartz case, permanently blocking the use of public school funds to pay for the state’s Education Savings Acount (ESA) voucher program. The Supreme Court justices decided to unanimously that the voucher program violates Section 2 and 6 of the Education Article of the Nevada Constitution, which mandates that all funds allocated by the Legislature for the public schools can only be used for their operation.
The Clark County School District reorganization plan means the potential exists for schools to become more responsive to their local communities. But that can only happen if parents’ voices are loud and clear.
School-level parent organizations could play an important role in encouraging parents to participate in their organizational teams. However, a majority of CCSD schools–about 60%– do not currently have an organization that represents parents. In low income neighborhoods, only one in five schools has a formal parent organization.
Under the reorganization plan approved by the Nevada Legislature and State Board of Education, each school in the CCSD will become an independent “precinct” with the power to determine its budget, staffing and school operation. Schools will be run by organizational teams made up of equal numbers of parents and teachers and lead by the school principal. As mandated by AB394, the total school budget will be determined by the size of the student population and based on a weighted student funding formula
A Rasmussen poll was conducted via landline telephone. 750 Nevadans were polled and it shows that the public is not in support of ESA vouchers. The results had more persons opposing ESA vouchers or not knowing what to make of the question, than supporting vouchers–51% to 48%. ENN is confident that Nevadans would reject a poll with a question that accurately describes the voucher program, as has ben the case in other states.