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Official accuses Nevada Board of Regents of violating open meetings law

A discussion and subsequent call for a vote surrounding a decrease in enhanced funding at the state’s community colleges caused one education official to accuse the Nevada Board of Regents of violating the state’s open meeting law Friday.

Item 20 on the board’s agenda was advertised as an update on the 2017-19 biennial budget process, but that point turned into a discussion concerning a legislative request to cut funding for career and technical education, or CTE. Regent Trevor Hayes said he thought this might be a violation of the open meeting law, and he left the room while the vote took place.

“Violation of the open meeting law is not just going outside the scope of a narrow agenda item. It is having an overly broad agenda item,” Hayes said. “As written, we could decide to eliminate the English department at UNLV and the history department at UNR.”

Regent Allison Stephens disagreed with Hayes’ accusation.

“We do not have an open meeting law violation,” she said. “I think we need to be very cognizant of making that accusation. I’m a participant in the board and that’s an accusation against me. And I don’t take it that way.”

Hayes requested that the board pull the item and schedule a special meeting to discuss the issue.

“I don’t think it has the proper specificity to allow those who will be affected by the decision to come before us,” he said.

Instead of pulling the item, however, the board voted 11-1 to ask the Legislature for a CTE budget enhancement that is scaled back to 75 percent of what was originally laid out in the biennial budget request for fiscal year 2018. The dissenting vote was cast by Cedric Crear.

The original ask of $12.2 million for the state’s four community colleges to split in 2018 was amended to $9.2 million.

Western Nevada College President Chet Burton said that while he would like all the money he could get, he thinks this was a great compromise.

“It just will be slower for some of the growth in the CTE program than it was going to be used for,” Burton said.

The funding would enhance CTE programs such as welding; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; automotive transportation; and construction management. CTE funding remains a top legislative priority for the regents.

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

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