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Many also argued that the school finance formula known as the Nevada Plan is outdated and needs to change.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
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.