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Clark County School District settles on 2019 legislative requests

The Clark County School District wants to protect its emergency savings fund from arbitrators and create a new system to help students dealing with trauma and will introduce two bills in the upcoming legislative session in an effort to do so.

In a rare unanimous vote during a work session Wednesday, school district trustees finalized the two bill draft requests they they will ask lawmakers to consider in the 2019 Legislative session. Trustees also continued to shape their legislative platform, which lays out other objectives — including more funding for school districts statewide.

One of the district’s two piece of legislation would create a “Handle with Care” initiative aimed at providing better support for students who experience trauma outside schools. Under the system, if police or child protective services encountered a student at a traumatic scene, such as a domestic violence incident, they would be required to send a secure message to the school district informing them of the contact.

The district would then identify where the child goes to school, and the next school day the district would be able to launch a mobile crisis unit to provide extra support for the student, such as counseling.

The messaging could be done through SafeVoice, existing anti-bullying software the state uses to track bullying complaints that is accessible to police and the school district.

Police already frequently message the district when they encounter students in difficult situations, but the bill would make that a requirement. It also would mean training school staff on how to deal with the children in crisis, although Vegas PBS has offered to create a training video at no cost so the measure would require minimal additional spending, district staff said.

The second request would help the district protect its “ending fund balance” — essentially a rainy day fund to see it through financial rough patches — from being accessed in contract negotiations and arbitrations with labor unions. The issue most recently surfaced in an arbitrator’s decision in April that said the district could afford to increase teachers’ pay and health care contribution by tapping the fund, but trustees said it’s been a consistent problem.

“I’ve been so frustrated being on this board and seeing how people have yanked our budget around,” Trustee Linda Young said.

The move would use language that already exists in Nevada Administrative Code and codify it under Nevada Revised Statutes, which would make the Legislature’s intent clear, said Jason Goudie, the district’s chief financial officer.

“It adds a very specific sentence that clearly defines it. This helps emphasize the clarity,” he said.

Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0821 or mdelaney@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

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