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Bipartisan team makes pitch to speed up Clark County School District reorganization

Updated March 29, 2017 - 11:19 pm

Days after being introduced, the bill that would enshrine the regulation governing the Clark County School District reorganization into law earned support from the state Senate and Assembly education committee members.

Giving the regulation governing Clark County’s reorganization the weight of law would provide “certainty and stability” to the process, said lawmakers who introduced Assembly Bill 469 on Wednesday.

“I was not here during the interim for the development of this, but I saw dysfunction and a need to have it addressed,” Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said during a joint meeting of the Senate and Assembly education committees.

The bill would put the reorganization regulation passed during the interim legislative process into state law. Making the regulation law would make the Clark County School Board’s legal challenge moot.

In 2015, the Legislature passed AB394 and mandated a reorganization or breakup of the nation’s fifth-largest school district. The law aimed to decentralize administrative-level power and give schools and communities more decision-making authority.

Crafting the accompanying regulation, which provides more clarity on how the law should be carried out, has proved an arduous task. District trustees have routinely said their concerns were not taken into account, and they are suing in an attempt to make their concerns heard.

“We need to make sure it’s done right. We need to make sure it’s done correct, and we need to not jeopardize the future of our students by making quick decisions about things that are going to impact their lives as well,” Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said.

Skorkowsky was the only person to speak against the bill, which otherwise drew praise for its bipartisan collaboration.

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

Frierson, Assembly Minority Floor Leader Paul Anderson, Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford and Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson sponsored the bill together.

“I’ve spent the last two years of my life working on this, so I feel personally invested in seeing this reorganization come to fruition,” Roberson said.

The joint effort drew high praise.

Lawmakers want to move the bill quickly through the process, and they said a trailer bill may be needed to finalize any major concerns.

The bill language now matches the most recently approved regulation language.

“This language, as you know, has taken a long path,” said Steve Canavero, the state superintendent of instruction, who spoke in support of the bill. “I want to honor the path the language has taken.”

MOVING FORWARD

The bill is a way to make the ongoing lawsuit unnecessary and clear the way for a full implementation of the reorganization in time for the 2017-18 school year to start in August.

The trustees first sued the state in December, saying partly that the Legislature violated the state constitution by delegating authority to the interim committee.

After concerns were raised that the trustees may have violated the public meeting law when authorizing the first lawsuit, they dropped the lawsuit, held a public meeting and voted to sue again.

Lawmakers expect to introduce a second bill to address any major concerns about the bill, including that it creates an unfunded mandate for the school district.

“We acknowledge that we will have to address issues as we go forward. I think you will find with the bill you have before you, it provides for ongoing regulations by the state Department of Education,” Roberson said. “We’re happy to consider other issues as we go forward.”

No action was taken on the bill Wednesday.

Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281 or mdelaney@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

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