CCSD seeks injunction against key provisions of state-mandated overhaul

The Clark County School District is seeking a permanent injunction against key provisions of the district’s mandated reorganization after repeated concerns from school board trustees had been largely ignored.

The board’s complaint, filed Wednesday in Carson City District Court, claims that the regulations for the law known as AB394 are invalid because they create an unfunded mandate and were not crafted in accordance with the law.

The complaint outlines specific issues with the reorganization that the trustees have continually addressed. Those include a lack of a weighted student funding formula, an accelerated timeline that moved the overhaul ahead by one year and the excessive involvement of the Advisory Committee for AB394 — the group of legislators working on a plan for the rollout.

It particularly takes aim at the advisory committee and the Community Implementation Council, which the committee created to assist with a reorganization that must be implemented for the 2017-18 school year.

A contentious moment recently came when the advisory committee hired a consultant for $1.2 million, a move that blindsided district officials, who also were told they were responsible for making that payment.

“Since summer, we have raised concerns about the AB394 regulation with the Advisory Committee, the (State Board of Education) and the Nevada Department of Education, and we regret that for the most part these entities have chosen not to address our concerns,” Board President Linda Young said in a statement.

Young said the district will continue to complete certain aspects of the reorganization effort while waiting for the complaint to be addressed by the court.

“This is not a stall tactic or a tactic to push AB394 to the side,” she said. “There are good aspects to it, but there are other aspects in terms of implementation that need to be clarified.”

The complaint argues that the reorganization law required the Advisory Committee to conduct a study of financial impact on the district. The study was never completed, yet the district must bear the cost of the overhaul.

It also states that the advisory committee overstepped its legal authority.

The district has also repeatedly stated a need for the weighted student funding formula, which would assign more money to students in certain categories.

The state has not yet set the additional amounts those students would receive for the 2017-18 year, hampering the district’s financial plans. The district is required to provide schools with their budgets by Jan. 15.

“The budgets are required to include weighted student funding that the state is not providing us,” said district attorney Carlos McDade. “We will not be able to comply with that requirement and so we are seeking relief from the court.”

Beyond next school year, the district will need additional money to fund the full cost of the formula.

“CCSD has in fact been chronically underfunded for years and cannot pay the additional costs associated with the reorganization without diverting funds from the already allocated budget,” the complaint states.

The filing also addresses the deadline for the reorganization, which was moved from 2018 to 2017.

Trustees sent a petition to the Nevada Department of Education asking to revisit the law’s regulations in November, citing these concerns.

The state board instead directed the district to work with the Community Implementation Council, which trustees also took issue with.

“Rather than agree to work with us, the (State Board of Education) referred us to the Community Implementation Committee, which is composed of members who were not elected and who have limited educational background in school management and no authority regarding implementation of the AB 394 regulation,” Trustee Chris Garvey said in a statement.

Advisory Committee Chairman and state Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, and Community Implementation Council Chairman Glenn Christenson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The districtwide overhaul will give more power to schools, which will directly receive 80 percent and later 85 percent of the total budget.

Yet that’s another issue the board has had with the effort.

“Compliance with this requirement is likely to result in additional responsibilities being transferred to the local school precincts,” the court filing reads. “Transfer of core Central Services functions will, among other impacts, impede Central Service’s ability to ensure that educational programs and services are provided to students on an equitable basis district-wide.”

The complaint appeared to catch some state officials off guard, including the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero.

“The (state) superintendent was surprised to receive this from a reporter and he felt it would have been nice to have received a copy when this was filed,” said Nevada Department of Education spokesman Greg Bortolin. “We’ll withhold any further comment until we have a chance to review this.”

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at 702-383-4630. Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey/@MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

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