Live from Carson City – Legislative Update #1

The first public meetings of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Education were predictably uneventful, ushering in new members with degrees of experiences relating to the committees’ work.

The Senate committee, after welcoming remarks, two overview briefings, and some admirable humor from Chairman Mo Denis, heard two bills: SB 100 (Woodhouse) to expedite teacher licensure and employment by schools for military veterans and spouses, received to unanimous praise, and committee-sponsored SB 80, to promote a safe and respectful learning environment in schools, which various speakers expressed enthusiasm for provided certain implementing details can be resolved.

The Assembly Education Committee’s introductory meeting offered some potential glimpses of business to come. Two highlights were a tribute to Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero and his tenure, and a moving presentation by leaders of Nevada’s School Counselor Association.

A remark by Chairman Tyrone Thompson may tip off one theme for his leadership in the coming months. “We’ve been hearing the narrative about the need,” Thompson observed about discussions relating to adding resources to support students’ mental health and social and emotional development needs. Then he added, “We also need, as legislators, to understand the true need.” In the coming months, prolonged deliberations over funding formulas and levels for Nevada public schools, was the chairman signaling a posture for those proceedings?

Las Vegas Assemblywoman and new Education Committee member Bea Duran provided another noteworthy moment in her introductory remarks. Invoking Clark County’s dramatic population growth as framing a challenge for the committee’s work during the 2019 session, “We’re going to keep growing,” Duran noted. “I think we need to find a solution to keep up with the growth.”

Last month, any discussion of the education challenges of keeping up with Southern Nevada’s unrelenting projected population growth (building schools, adding new teachers, etc.) was conspicuously absent from Governor Sisolak’s State of the State Address. How will these, indeed pressing, challenges characterize the Legislature’s work, and commitments, on education during the 2019 session as the dialogue returns, again and again, to school budget matters? We’ll keep watching.