Governor Lombardo’s Education Bills Hang in the Balance, Prompting Concerns of a Legislative Standoff
By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, May 24, 2023 12:07 pm
NEVADA – Governor Joe Lombardo’s education bills face a critical deadline in the Nevada legislature, raising fears of a potential legislative standoff. Failure to pass these bills could lead to a veto of the budget and the calling of a special session, as confirmed by Lombardo’s office last week. Education and school safety are among the governor’s top priorities.
One of the bills that has yet to progress is Assembly Bill 400, focused on school choice. Advocates for school choice, like Valeria Gurr, express frustration over the lack of movement. Gurr, who leads the American Federation for Children, a nonprofit promoting school choice nationwide, emphasizes the need for safer schools and expanded educational options.
To amplify their message, the American Federation for Children released an ad targeting Spanish-speaking stations, urging lawmakers to support Governor Lombardo’s plan for school choice. The ad highlights concerns about safety issues in schools and emphasizes the importance of providing options for families.
Assembly Bill 400 aims to expand Opportunity Scholarships, allowing qualifying students to use funds for private school tuition. The bill seeks to increase accessibility by raising the income threshold from $89,000 to $150,000 for families of four. Supporters view it as a positive step forward in providing quality education alternatives.
Additionally, Assembly Bill 400 proposes the creation of an Office of School Choice within the Nevada Department of Education. It would also enable charter schools to apply for public funding for transporting students to their campuses.
However, some remain hesitant to support the bill, citing concerns about diverting funds from public schools. Elementary school teacher Vicki Kreidel argues that Nevada’s education system cannot afford further budget reductions. She believes that public school classrooms would suffer, jeopardizing the quality of education.
Governor Lombardo’s second education bill, Assembly Bill 330, known as the Safer and Supportive Schools Act, did not advance from committee but received an extension. The bill aims to implement zero-tolerance policies to enhance school safety. Opponents express reservations about the potential impact on vulnerable students who may lack resources following expulsion.
Governor Lombardo’s chief of staff, Ben Kieckhefer, emphasized the need for school safety legislation that effectively addresses the safety of teachers and children. The governor seeks measures beyond mere parental meetings for students who commit battery against teachers.
The education bills’ fate remains uncertain as the legislative session nears its end, leaving room for negotiations and potential breakthroughs.
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