weather icon Clear

Candidates for education posts talk funding at Las Vegas forum

Education funding for the Silver State dominated the discussion at a forum Wednesday night for candidates running for the three open Clark County School Board seats and two of the three open Board of Regents spots.

For many in the School Board race, the answer to most questions was money — and the need for more of it from the state.

District F candidate Danielle Ford, a dropout of the Clark County School District who said the district failed her, argued that nobody is making education the priority it needs to be.

“We really need to rally and just give the Legislature a list and say, ‘fund it,’” she said. “And if we had enough parents, it would get done.”

Many also argued that the school finance formula known as the Nevada Plan is outdated and needs to change.

District F candidate Kali Fox Miller, who has experience as a financial auditor, said the fundamental flaw of the plan is that it assumes that current funding levels meet the needs of children.

“If I was queen for a day, what I would do is I would completely wipe it out and I would start with analyzing how much it costs to educate a child in the state of Nevada,” she said. “And that would be your base funding per child.”

On closing the student achievement gap, Trustee Linda Cavazos — running to keep her seat in District G — argued for more data to be given to the board in a timely manner.

“About 3 percent of our time has been spent talking about student achievement,” she said of the current board. “That has to change.”

District F candidate Eileen Eady also linked improving achievement back to funding.

“If you want to talk about closing the achievement gap, you’ve got to have less students in a room, you’ve got to have that going on,” she said.

District D candidate Irene Cepeda supported weighted funding for students, especially for those who fall into categories with the most need.

District F candidate Mary Ballinger, a mother of eight who has served on a school organizational team, said she sees what kids are going through and personally feels affected.

But District F candidate Mike Thomas, a former school district police officer, said the board doesn’t determine what the state provides.

“But we can determine how that money is spent,” he said, noting the millions of dollars that the district has spent on consultants, some of whom were previous district employees.

Thomas was the only candidate present who supported Education Savings Accounts — which allow parents to spend taxpayer money on private schools — and arming teachers.

Among the three present Board of Regents candidates, all expressed opposition to a proposal to split responsibilities among two parties, with one in charge of universities and another in charge of community colleges.

But they differed slightly in their ideas on how to attract students to Nevada’s higher education system.

District 12 candidate Amy Carvalho, who praised dual enrollment programs and the Nevada Promise Scholarship, said she would focus on lower-income families and those who are first-generation college students.

District 12 candidate Andrew Coates said the system needs to lock in tuition rates.

“If you commit to a degree within our system, your fees should not be raised so that you and your family should budget properly,” he said.

District 1 candidate Jo Cato said she wants to cultivate a relationship between secondary and higher education.

The Las Vegas-based nonprofit Public Education Foundation hosted the forum, which was sponsored by the Guinn Center, Hope for Nevada and the Latino Chamber of Commerce Professional Mujeres Group. Several other candidates in the races did not attend.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
'Evangelicals for Trump' event draws hundreds to Las Vegas hotel - VIDEO
Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters packed the Ahern Hotel in Las Vegas for a faith-based campaign event. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak names new DETR director, head of unemployment task force - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak named Elisa Cafferata acting director of Nevada’s Department of Training, Employment and Rehabilitation and announced Barbara Buckley as the leader of a rapid response team on unemployment insurance at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak unveils long-term COVID-19 plan with Nevada Health Response team - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday a long-term strategy for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Nevada through a targeted approach. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak: Bars in four counties to stay closed - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said bars in four counties, including Clark County, will remain closed to help fight COVID-19. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 case reported at Legislature's special session - Video
A person who was inside the Nevada Legislature Building has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes said Friday, July 10. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump Pushing for Reopening Schools and In-Person Learning - Video
Donald Trump launched an effort on Wednesday to reopen schools across the United States with in-person learning.
Special session to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lawmakers to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Democratic leaders resign
Several key Clark County Democratic Party leaders have resigned as progressive leadership has swelled in recent months.
Dream Big Nevada celebrates DACA ruling - VIDEO
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections under DACA for 650,000 young immigrants. Astrid Silva, founder of Dream Big Nevada, discusses the temporary victory and the next step for Dreamers.
Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of city council meeting - Video
Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of a City Council meeting during public comments.
Mitt Romney marches in Washington, D.C., protest - Video
On Sunday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah joined a group of protesters marching through Washington, D.C. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge hears arguments on Sisolak bar-closure order

The judge deciding a legal challenge by Clark County bar owners seeking to reverse Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order closing their businesses to fight the spread of COVID-19 promised a quick ruling Thursday after a 90-minute hearing.