CARSON CITY — Achievement School District charters would have to meet the same prevailing wage standard public schools pay when undertaking major capital projects, according to a proposal laid out in the Nevada Assembly’s education committee Wednesday.
Senate Bill 173, sponsored by Sen. Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, would hold charter schools in the program to the same standards as public schools. Right now, public schools that undertake capital projects costing $250,000 must pay 90 percent of the county’s prevailing wage, a slight discount from other public entities.
Cancela said her bill closes a loophole from the 2015 session. Under the 2015 law, underperforming public schools can be taken from district control and given to a charter operator to run day-to-day operations in an effort to increase student performance.
Cancela laid out a scenario where if a construction project was started one day before the school became a charter, it would be subject to the prevailing wage law. If the project started the day after the school became a charter, it would be exempt.
“I believe the exemption is unwarranted,” Cancela said, while introducing the bill to the Assembly education committee on Wednesday.
Assemblyman Chris Edwards, R-Las Vegas, questioned why charter schools should be held to the same standard when charter schools are not given the same funding by the state.
“Shouldn’t we then also given then additional money?” he asked.
Pat Hickey, executive director of the Charter School Association of Nevada, echoed similar sentiments. Hickey said he would not be opposed to charters being held to the same expectation if they received the same funding.
“Since charters don’t get facilities funding, they are having to take the money out of their academic budget,” Hickey said.
Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, D-Las Vegas, questioned whether Achievement School District charters would need to perform capital improvement that would cross the $250,000 threshold.
The committee took no action on the Senate bill Wednesday.
Another bill this session attempts to change the prevailing wage requirements in the state. Assembly Bill 154 lowers the project threshold to $100,000. It also deletes the 90 percent rate for schools and eliminates the exemptions for charters.
Contact Meghin Delaney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0281. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.