A new bill would give school districts more flexibility in how they spend money mandated for instructional supplies.
Nevada law requires districts to spent a certain amount of their per-pupil state allotment on supplies each year — currently about $127 per pupil.
But a bill sponsored by Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, would allow districts to reduce the amount allocated toward materials if they are able to find instructional resources free of charge — known as Open Educational Resources, or OERs.
“OERs in many instances are highly aligned to the Nevada academic content standards and are of the highest quality,” said Aaron Grossman, a third-grade teacher in Washoe County Schools who worked on the bill, told the Senate Committee on Education on Monday. “They allow teachers like myself to access a much larger ecosystem.”
Those savings would allow districts to spend the previously restricted money in other areas.
But Sen. Marilyn Dondero-Loop, D-Las Vegas, expressed concern about reducing the amount that districts must spend on textbooks, software and other instructional supplies.
“My concern is we’re trying to increase funding in education, and by backing up money we’re clearly saying ‘We don’t need that,’” she said. “You might not, but some other county, some other school, some other child might.”
Another bill seeks to create a task force that would study the creation of a career pathway for teachers, the first step in reshaping the teaching profession. The eight-member task force, which includes representatives in higher education and public school teachers, would determine whether the state should revise the kinds and tiers of licenses for teachers — a move that could more thoroughly classify teachers based on their experience or expertise.
Educators in support of the bill said that often times the only opportunity for advancement in their career is to take a post outside the classroom. They also noted that there is no differentiation in licensure or advancement opportunities, meaning a first-year teacher has the same standing on paper as a veteran teacher.
“Teachers in Nevada deserve to have meaningful pathways that allow them to grow, leverage their expertise,” said Daniel Liles, a Clark County teacher and Teach Plus Nevada Teaching Policy Fellow. “In order to accomplish this we need to reimagine the teaching profession in Nevada.”