Nevada's Gamble On School Choice

With the passage of Senate Bill 302, Nevada lawmakers approved what's being called the most comprehensive school choice program in the country. Basically, families can apply to have the state subsidize their child's private or homeschool education through what's called an education savings account or ESA.

Each child will receive roughly $5,000, but not every Nevada child is currently eligible under the law's so-called 100-day rule, requiring that applicants attend a public school for at least 100 days. That rule is causing the most controversy, but critics are also questioning the program's accessibility and constitutionality, along with its potential effectiveness for repairing K-12 education in Nevada.

Reno Public Radio is exploring all of these issues for our series Nevada's Gamble On School Choice.

Below is a map of the various private school options available in Washoe County. Click on a pin to see details like the school's name, religious affiliation, tuition, and how far the ESA payout would go toward covering it. 

Alexa Ard

 

School choice is a phrase you’ve been hearing a lot lately as Nevada rolls out its education savings account program, which gives parents funds for alternative schooling. Debates over the program are highlighting broader issues in education funding.  To begin with, the Nevada State Plan, which governs school funding in the state, hasn’t actually been updated since 1967.

 

  

Education Savings Accounts: Get The Facts, Fast!

Sep 3, 2015
Gabriella Benavidez

There's a lot of information, and confusion, surrounding Nevada's new Education Savings Account program. To get the lowdown, check out our handy infographic:

Alexa Ard

Although some in the state legislature are selling Nevada’s new education savings account program as a benefit for low-income students, many Washoe County families don't see it as a realistic option for them.

I wanted to see if parents and students at Reno's low-income public schools had heard of the ESA program, and what they thought of it. So I hit the streets just as school was letting out.

“Have you heard about the Education Savings Account program in Nevada?”

“No”

“No, sorry me no.”

“Have you heard about the Education Savings Account program?”

All week KUNR has been looking into the challenges of implementing the new Education Savings Account program for our series Nevada’s Gamble on School Choice. Some have questioned whether the program is unconstitutional because the funds can be used at private religious schools. The State Constitution says, “No public money of any kind…shall be used for sectarian purposes.” But some, including Kristopher Dahir the director of Excel Christian Academy in Sparks, say once parents are given an account, the money in it belongs to them similar to a tax refund.

Nevada lawmakers recently passed SB302, a landmark education bill. Today, as part of our series “Nevada’s Gamble on School Choice” Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray explores the unforeseen consequences the new law could have on the state.

Alexa Ard

Excitement is building around Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESA) Program, which will give eligible families about $5,000 a year to subsidize their child’s private or home school education. 

But as the application process gets underway, many parents are also voicing a lot of confusion and frustration. For the latest on the situation, Reno Public Radio’s News Director Michelle Bliss reached out to State Treasurer Dan Schwartz whose office is running the program. 

State's 100-Day Rule Vexes Private School Parents

Aug 31, 2015
Alexa Ard

  This week our news team is taking an in depth look at the state's new Education Savings Account program in a five-part series called Nevada's Gamble on School Choice. To kick things off, our reporter Julia Ritchey tells us how private school parents are at arms over one of the most controversial elements of the law: the so-called 100-days rule.