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Nevadans would no longer elect State Board Of Education under proposal

By ThisIsReno

By Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau: Nevadans would no longer see education board representatives on their ballots if a proposal before the Legislature passes.

Assembly Bill 548, recommended by an education task force, would give the governor the power to appoint the superintendent and state board of education.

Proponents of the bill said it would drastically simplify Nevada’s current education system. The Nevada’s Promise task force members testifying today before a legislative education committee said that it would also make the governor more like the CEO for education.

“In any successful sports team, the same is true,” said Punam Mathur, vice president of human resources for NV Energy and a member of the task force. “It is clear somebody is in charge.”

The governor, with recommendations from the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the Assembly, would appoint three board members per year for three-year terms. The board would also shrink from 10 members to nine.

The governor would appoint the superintendent from a list of nominees drafted by the state board.

“We think that what we’re presenting to you has natural checks and balances in it so we can keep all the key leadership bodies in it fully involved and fully engaged,” Mathur said.

She said it makes a highly-visible elected official – the governor – more accountable to education.

Although Nevadans currently elect the state board representatives, lending those offices a degree of accountability, Mathur and others asked: How many Nevadans can name their state board representative?

Opponents to the bill said the bill would politicize the education system to the detriment of students. They also championed Nevadans’ ability to elect board members such as the Board of Regents that governs Nevada’s colleges and universities.

“Nevadans want to pick their judges just as they want to elect their state board,” said Craig Stevens, director of government relations for the Nevada State Education Association.

The teacher’s union representative said that the union liked most of the recommendations from the Nevada Promise task force. This one, however, would not necessarily help students learn more, Stevens said.

The bill enjoys support from some Democrats, although the Democratic caucus has been split over some education bills the Legislature is considering this session.

The Assembly Democratic caucus met for more than one hour before voting on education bills today, after which the vote showed several Democrats voting against the bills.

The committee took no immediate action on Assembly Bill 548.

If passed, the bill would create a fully-appointed board by Jan. 1, 2015. It would also eliminate the need for the Legislature to consider redrawing the districts voters use to elect their school board representatives. The Legislature must redistrict this year based on data from the 2010 Census.

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