2015 Legislative Blog

  • Lincoln Park Student Ambassadors testify before Education Committee

    Posted by Scott Baez at 5/14/2015 10:00:00 AM
    Student Ambassadors testify before Assembly Education Committee
    Lincoln Park Elementary School's Student Ambassadors testified before the Assembly Education Committee yesterday. The group of sixth-graders told the committee about their 800 hours of volunteer work for their fellow students, which includes assisting with the school's Breakfast Before the Bell program. Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, who represents Lincoln Park Elementary's attendance area, met with the Student Ambassadors and introduced them during floor session. Congratulations kids!
     
    Student Ambassadors meet with Assemblyman Sprinkle
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  • Legislature Focuses on School Safety

    Posted by Scott Baez at 4/17/2015 9:00:00 AM

    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:

    AB112, Assemblyman Elliot Anderson

    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.

    AB148, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore

    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, Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson

    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.

    SB205, Senate Education Committee

    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.

    AB321, Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus

    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.

    SB111, Senator Aaron Ford

    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.

    SB338, Senator Debbie Smith

    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, Senate Finance Committee on Behalf of the Governor

    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.

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  • Assembly Committee to Consider School Construction Bill Tomorrow - Thursday, February 25

    Posted by Scott Baez at 2/25/2015 1:05:00 PM
    Tomorrow the Assembly Government Affairs Committee will consider SB119, Washoe County School District’s top legislative priority of the 78th Legislative Session. The bill will provide vital bonding authority to allow WCSD to relieve overcrowding and maintain aging schools.

    Check back here tomorrow at 8:00am for a link to watch the hearing.
     
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  • 2015 Legislative Session: School Construction Bill Passes Senate

    Posted by Scott Baez at 2/19/2015 10:00:00 AM

     

    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.

    Funding for capital projects is a critical need for Washoe County School District. With the failure of the School Capital Needs Initiative (AB 46, 2013) and the expiration of the 2002 rollover bond, WCSD does not have any substantive sustainable source for capital construction needs while our buildings continue to age and schools face overcrowding. The extension of the current rollover bond property tax rate under SB119 is a critical component to ensuring the stability of our current building needs.
     
    The bill now moves to the Assembly, where it will first be considered by the Committee on Government Affairs and its chairman, John Ellison (R-Elko).

    The Senate also considered SB19, WCSD’s own bill which authorizes the Board of Trustees of a school district to present advisory ballot questions to the voters in general elections. Each legislative session, WCSD is authorized to propose one bill to the lawmakers. This year, we proposed SB19 to give school districts a tool to engage voters in our community on critical issues facing their schools. The Nevada Association of School Boards, Nevada Association of School Superintendents, the Chamber and the cities of Reno and Sparks testified in support of SB19.

    In the coming days, the legislature will consider bills relating to religious expression in schools (AB120), student discipline (AB121) and special education (SB132).

    Want to share your support for WCSD’s legislative priorities with lawmakers? You can offer your views on any bill before the Legislature using this online tool.
     
    Lindsay & Scott 
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  • 2015 Legislative Session: Week 1 Update

    Posted by Scott Baez at 2/9/2015 9:30:00 AM

    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.

     WCSD Students Promote Digital Learning Opportunities at the Nevada Legislature on Thursday, February 5.

     

    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

     

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  • Legislative Session Kicks Off February 2

    Posted by Scott Baez at 1/29/2015 2:00:00 PM

     

    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.

     

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