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US Rep. Joe Heck unveils bill to change career and technical education funding

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck said he hopes to see hearings and possibly action before year’s end on a bill that would change career and technical education funding.

Heck, R-Nev., who is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, officially announced his Career and Technical Education Equity Act on Tuesday. He said it would ensure Nevada continues to receive its share of federal career and technical education funding by repealing the hold harmless provision in the funding formula.

Federal funding for career and technical education is provided to states based on a formula that accounts for population and level of poverty. The formula was created nearly 20 years ago and includes a hold harmless provision that prevents states from receiving less than they received in 1998. The current formula’s potential harm is to states like Nevada that have experienced major population growth.

A report by the Congressional Research Service estimates the legislation would increase Nevada’s share of funding by 2.6 percent, or $258,000, within three years of enactment.

Dr. James R. Stone III, the director of the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education at the Southern Regional Education Board, said the bill doesn’t amount to a lot of money, and “probably won’t” go anywhere.

In 2015, secondary career and technical education programs in Nevada received $3.5 million from the state. The state authorized $10.4 million for 2016, and in 2017, the programs will receive $12.5 million.

“That’s a very significant difference,” said Mike Raponi, director for the Office of Career Readiness, Adult Learning and Education Options for the Nevada Education Department. “But it’s a big responsibility.”

Raponi said the goal is to develop and expand career and technical education programs in comprehensive high schools where the programs don’t exist.

According to the department, last year, 76 percent of African-American students enrolled in a career and technical education program tested proficient in math, compared with 60 percent in the general population.

“Some of our minority populations, they are in absolute need of these programs,” Raponi said.

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

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