Every two years, the Nevada Legislature meets for a 120-day session to fund state government and consider new policies. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and legislative leaders have made clear that addressing K-12 funding and reform are top priorities for the 2015 Session, and our Trustees, Superintendent and staff are ready to advocate to further our district’s policy goals.
Washoe County School District recognizes that a safe and respectful learning environment is essential for all students. Here's a rundown of bills affecting school safety currently under consideration at the Nevada Legislature:
Assembly Bill 112 expands the Legislature’s goal to provide a safe and respectful learning environment by ensuring the quality of instruction is not negatively impacted by poor attitudes or interactions among school district personnel. The bill also requires the policy prescribed by the Department of Education for all school districts and public schools to include methods to promote collegiality among teachers and between teachers and all other educational personnel.
In its original form, AB148 allowed concealed firearms on the property of K-12 public schools, as well as higher education campuses, day cares and airports. The Assembly Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment that allows CCW permittees to keep a firearm out of view in a locked vehicle when on a K-12 campus.
AB218 is a comprehensive school safety bill, which updates provisions related to district emergency management, establishes a lockdown policy, and increases access to behavioral health services in schools. WCSD police and emergency management staff worked with the sponsor to craft the language of the bill, which drew support from school districts and a large contingent of social workers and other mental health practitioners.
Senate Bill 205 requires the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Public Safety to develop a model plan for the management of a crisis or an emergency involving a public or private school. This model plan must include certain procedures, plans, and information to be utilized by each school district, charter school, and private school in the development of local plans. This measure also removes the requirement that district and school plans be submitted to the State Board of Education, and instead requires that notices of completion of its review be filed with the Department.
This bill clarifies that the jurisdiction of school district police departments extends to the property of a charter school. As such, the bill allows charter schools to contract with school police departments to provide police services at the school district’s cost. The Assembly Education Committee adopted an amendment from CCSD mandating that the charter school must initiate a request for police services by January 1 of the previous school year, and requires that any contract to provide police services to charter schools must be for a period of no less than 3 years.
This bill requires a chief of school police to require each uniformed police officer who routinely interacts with the public to wear a portable event recording device while on duty. The bill also mandates that disciplinary measures be adopted for officers who fail to properly operate the device, intentionally manipulate footage captured or prematurely destroy any footage captured. The bill also provides that such footage is public record which may be requested on a per-incident basis and requires that footage that may be considered confidential be available for inspection at the location where the record is held.
This bill creates a statewide “Safe-to-Tell” program under the office of the Attorney General. The Safe-to-Tell program would provide an avenue for students to anonymously report any safety issue related to themselves or their peers, including criminal activity, plans for self-harm, or any other safety concern. The program is modeled after a similar measure enacted in Colorado after the Columbine shooting.
SB504 is Governor Sandoval’s effort to address bullying in public schools. The bill establishes a new Office of Safe and Respectful Learning under the Nevada Department of Education. Additionally, the bill substantially revises the definition of bullying, requires tighter timelines for investigation and reporting, and provides for certain penalties for district staff who fail to comply with the bill’s provisions. In a hearing that stretched late into the evening, parents of bullied children offered emotionally powerful testimony in support of the bill. WCSD expressed the need for clarity in bullying’s definition, and the need for additional staff to handle the bill’s requirements.
It’s just week three of the 2015 Legislative Session, but already the Senate has passed a vital bill for Washoe County School District. SB119, sponsored by Senators Ben Kieckhefer (R-Washoe) and Becky Harris (R-Clark) authorizes school districts statewide to issue general obligation bonds for school construction, renovation and repair for a period of ten years. In addition, the bill eliminates the requirement for contractors on school construction projects to pay prevailing wages. SB119 passed the Senate in a party-line vote, with all eleven Republicans in favor and all nine Democrats in attendance opposed.
Welcome to the 2015 Legislative Blog. We will use this blog to provide periodic updates on hearings and progress of issues related to the Washoe County School District during the legislative process. Here is an overview of the WCSD Legislative Platform.
The first week was particularly eventful and included a hearing on the top priority for us this session – the extension of the rollover bond for school construction. Trustee Mayer, Interim Superintendent Davis and COO Pete Etchart testified in front of the committee on the importance of investing in our existing school buildings to provide warm, safe and dry learning environments and the impending population growth and the immediate need for new schools.
Both the Senate and Assembly Education Committees held their first meetings and have already scheduled several bill hearings for next week. The Senate Education committee heard testimony on SB75 which would require the State Board of Education to prescribe a minimum number of instructional days before state assessments are given and SB101 which would allow districts the option to delay notification of reemployment from May 1 to May 15 in odd number (or legislative) years with Board of Trustee approval.
We heard EDAWN CEO Mike Kazmierski present his outlook to the Senate Revenue & Economic Development committee. He included a special emphasis the need to invest in our K-12 education system, particularly in our school buildings.
It was also Digital Learning Day on Thursday and our staff and students represented WCSD in a unique digital experience.
The Government Affairs team will provide an update to the Board of Trustees at its regularly scheduled meeting on February 10th.
If the first week is any indication, the session proves to be a fast-paced, education focused legislative session. Please stay tuned for future updates.
Lindsay & Scott
Education issues are front and center as the 78th Session of the Nevada Legislature gets underway on Monday, February 2nd. Governor Brian Sandoval and legislative leaders have made clear that addressing K-12 funding and reform are top priorities, and our Trustees, Superintendent and staff are ready to advocate to further our district’s policy goals.
In his state of the state address, Governor Sandoval outlined an aggressive education agenda. The Governor proposed over $780 million in new education spending, including increased funding universal all day kindergarten, ZOOM schools, early childhood education, technology and Gifted and Talented programs. In addition, Governor Sandoval expressed support for legislation to extend temporary rollover bonding authority to help districts address school construction needs.
On Tuesday, January 27th the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a comprehensive legislative platform that aligns with the Governor’s plan. The Board’s platform is designed to guide WCSD’s advocacy efforts during the session. It states WCSD’s position on a wide range of education policies, including the need for a sustainable revenue source for school construction and maintenance projects, competitive operating budgets, flexibility to ensure that the district can hire and retain the best employees, and other policy priorities.
As the session progresses, stay tuned to this blog for updates on key legislation affecting Washoe County School District.