Education

For Struggling Schools, New Year Brings More Money

Aug 10, 2015
Julia Ritchey

Summer break is officially over for the 63,000 students returning to Washoe County Schools on Monday. Reno Public Radio’s Julia Ritchey visited one of the state’s newly designated Victory Schools, which will receive extra money this year.

Kids shuffled to class as the tardy bell signaled the start of another school year for Libby Booth Elementary.

Booth is one of four so-called Victory Schools set to receive additional funds to help its low-income student body. Nearly all of Booth’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch. 

Washoe County Schools are opening their doors Monday to 63,000 students as K-12 classes get underway. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details on two district-wide changes going into effect this school year.

One big change is that all kindergartners in Washoe now have access to free full-day schooling. The state legislature approved funding to roll this out statewide a year from now, but the Washoe County School District has decided to offer it at every elementary school now.

The Nevada treasurer's office heard hours of public comment Friday on a new law that allows families to spend public education dollars on private school tuition. 

In the last legislative session, lawmakers approved SB302 which creates a program for education savings accounts. Those accounts will offer families a credit each year that can go toward the cost of a school of their choice.  But there's a catch. In order to qualify for the money, students must first be enrolled in public school for 100 days. 

We often hear Nevada’s high school graduation rate described as low, dismal, embarrassing. It sits at 70 percent while some states are approaching 90. Even though Nevada lags behind, there is a growing patchwork of programs and interventions that are working. For our series “Making It To Graduation,” Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss talks to some of the educators and mentors who are on the ground level trying to improve the graduation rate one kid at a time. 

A historic tax hike of more than a billion dollars will soon help reform K-12 education in Nevada. But how will that money be tracked to make sure it supports real improvement? And during such a severe teacher shortage, who will even be on the ground level to implement change?

To get the answers, Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss talked to Dale Erquiaga, the state superintendent of public instruction. Their conversation is part of our series Making It To Graduation.

The Nevada legislature has wrapped up its 120-day session after making the historic decision to approve more than a billion dollars in tax hikes for K-12 education. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reached out to Fred Lokken, professor of political science at Truckee Meadows Community College, to learn how such a controversial tax package gained so much momentum and support.

According to Lokken, passage of this bill really came down to two things: Sandoval's leadership and fracturing of the state Republican party. 

Alexa Ard

Governor Brian Sandoval's plan to raise taxes by more than a billion dollars for K-12 education has cleared both legislative houses. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports on Monday's vote for the state's largest tax increase ever. 

The state senate broke into loud applause after the final vote count on SB483 was announced as 18-3. Democratic Senator Aaron Ford called the decision "historic."

Governor Brian Sandoval's tax plan has cleared the Senate. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that the proposal now heads to the Assembly where it'll face tough opposition.

Only four senators voted against the proposal, while 17 came out in support. That's more than the required two-thirds majority vote needed, and it's a margin that surprised even Governor Sandoval.

Governor Brian Sandoval delivered testimony during a joint committee hearing Wednesday for his plan to increase business license fees in order to raise money for K-12 education. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

Despite wide support for improving the state's lagging education system, Sandoval is charged with convincing a Republican-controlled legislature to raise taxes for the cause.

In a rousing speech, Sandoval made his case, saying economic development will suffer if the state can't create more revenue and devote it to students.

Nevada lawmakers are reviewing a bill that would require elementary and middle school students to learn about personal finance. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

Right now, state law only requires financial literacy lessons for high school students.

High school Senior Kyle Walker from Las Vegas is a member of the Nevada Youth Legislature and spoke at a committee hearing on the bill Tuesday. He says simply being prepared for college isn't enough anymore.

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