Synchronizing budget timelines, providing more support to children in crisis and boosting funding for education are among the Clark County School District early priorities for the next legislative session.
Trustees began working on developing their top-level issues for the 2019-20 legislative session during a session Wednesday morning.
The district, which is entitled to two formal bill requests, won’t finalize those until late in the summer, after new Superintendent Jesus Jara joins the team. But retiring Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said he wanted to get the ball rolling to help ensure a smooth transition, adding that he and Jara has been in contact about the legislative priorities.
Jara also will be able to hire the key staff members who will lobby on behalf of the district during the session, after two members of the government relations team left the district.
“This is a priority that it going to happen as soon as he arrives and comes into the building,” Skorkowsky said.
In addition to the two formal bill draft proposals, the district will likely come to consensus on other priority needs, including improvements to school safety. Typically, the district has used its two bill draft requests to ask for language or policy changes instead of asking for money, said spokeswoman Kirsten Searer.
“We tend to work with the legislators and the community organizations on that,” she said.
But Trustee Lola Brooks said she thought it was important the district ask for everything it needs, even if it’s unlikely the needs will be funded.
“We get blamed perpetually for not asking for more even though we know we’re not going to get it,” she said. “I think it reflects badly on us.”
Items the trustees are considering for their bill draft requests include:
— Changing budget timelines so that schools know what categorical funds they’ll get from the state when principals create budgets.
— Creating a “Handle with Care” initiative that would allow more communication between police, child protective services and the school district aimed at supporting students at school who may be experiences crises at home.
— Allowing volunteers who have already undergone background checks as a result of their jobs to bypass the requirement in the school district.
— Revising laws requiring the district to maintain a certain budget fund reserve at the end of the school year.
— Altering how member are elected to serve on school organizational teams under the state-mandated reorganization.
— Removing the requirement for a school district to create a tentative budget during the legislative session.
Despite only being able to sponsor two bills, the district’s platform will more broadly explain other ideas the district supports, like measures to improve school safety or provide additional funding to schools.
Sex ed issue revisited
Trustee Carolyn Edwards waded back into controversial waters by asking fellow members if they could support changing the way students receive sex education.
Right now, students only receive sex education if their parents “opt in.” Edwards would like trustees to support the opposite, with every student receiving sex education except those who “opt out.”
No consensus was reached Wednesday and trustees are expected to revisit the topic in July after Jara is on the job.