The “Community Schools Initiative” that would split up the Clark County School District if voters approve it in 2024, announced endorsements Thursday from Southern Nevada chambers of commerce.
The Vegas Chamber, Henderson Chamber of Commerce, Latin Chamber of Commerce, Urban Chamber of Commerce, Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce, and Boulder City Chamber of Commerce all support the initiative.
“Raising student achievement is essential for the future of Nevada. This petition will compel legislators to address the state’s archaic governance of our school system and give communities more options to meet the educational needs of its students,” said Mary Beth Sewald, president and CEO of the Vegas Chamber in a statement.
The Clark County School District is the fifth-largest district in the country with more than 300,000 students. Henderson has 320,000 residents and is the second largest city in the state.
The initiative aims to revamp Nevada’s “outdated and underperforming K-12 education system” by allowing for cities and municipalities to form school districts that would be “smaller and more responsive to the needs of the communities they serve,” the initiative’s statement said.
The ballot initiative is in the signature gathering phase and will qualify for the November 2024 ballot once it collects 140,777 valid signatures. The Nevada Legislature could also pass the initiative in its 2023 session, according to the Community Schools Initiative.
Nevada’s school districts are determined by county boundaries, so the statutory ballot initiative would allow districts to be formed by either ordinance or direct vote of the people in each jurisdiction, according to the Community Schools Initiative, headed by Henderson City Councilman Dan Stewart, who formed the political action committee.
The initiative proposes to let local governing bodies “opt out” of a county district and create their own via passage of a resolution or ordinance that would be subject to voter approval, according to a previous Review-Journal report. The locality would also be able to place the question directly on the town or municipality’s ballot.
If approved, the initiative would allow a new district to begin operating within two years. The new school district would retain previously allocated funding, honor existing contracts and function under the state Board of Education, however it would have its own board of trustees.
“The Latin Chamber of Commerce believes that everything that can benefit a young person’s education should be on the table and the (Latin Chamber of Commerce) will be involved to make sure that all ideas are equitable, so that no child gets left behind,” said Peter Guzman, president and chief executive officer of the Latin Chamber of Commerce in the statement.
Ken Evans, the outgoing president for the Urban Chamber of Commerce, said in the statement that the chamber supports the initiative because the current system does not work and leaves vulnerable students behind.
“Education is always on the top of our priorities at the chamber. We are so happy that we are participating with the Community Schools Initiative to make our school system better,” said Robert Young, president of the Asian Chamber of Commerce, in the statement.