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PARTY LINES: Appointed lieutenant governor can push school reform bill if elected

Updated October 22, 2022 - 8:20 am

Appointed Lt. Gov. Lisa Cano Burkhead may or may not be presiding over the Nevada Senate come February, but she has requested a bill that aims to reform local school boards.

Cano Burkhead, a longtime teacher and principal in the Clark County School District, wants to expand school boards in Clark and Washoe counties, adding a mix of appointed officials to the current crop of elected members.

In Clark County, the board would add four people — one appointee each from Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson, with Clark County appointing the board president. With the current seven elected members, the board’s size would grow to 11 members.

Cano Burkhead said in a statement her goal was to “professionalize and modernize our school boards so that we have more education experts to act in the best interests of our students.”

“We have high expectations for our kids, and our teachers work hard day-in and day-out with our kids to meet those expectations,” Cano Burkhead added. “It’s time we have those same expectations of our school boards, because leadership matters.”

Efforts to add appointed members — or to replace elected trustees with appointed ones — have been discussed for years in Nevada. Critics typically say the move would deprive voters of the right to select their school boards and remove public accountability.

The hybrid model proposed by Cano Burkhead would add a voice from local governments, which currently have no role in school governance.

Her idea may have competition from a ballot initiative gathering signatures that would allow local governments to form their own school districts. If that measure gathers enough signatures, it would go before lawmakers for debate and possibly to the voters if the Legislature declines to take action.

If Cano Burkhead gets elected, she will be able to push her bill. If not, it will become what’s known as an “orphan bill,” which will only move forward if an active lawmaker chooses to sponsor it.

Everybody loves Amodei

Rep. Mark Amodei is pretty much a lock for re-election, in a district where active Republicans outnumber active Democrats by more than 61,000 people. Still, he’s facing a challenge from Democrat Mercedes Elizabeth Krause, Libertarian Darryl Baber and Independent American Party member Russell Best, so now is no time to rest on one’s laurels.

Amodei is pumping out a steady stream of endorsement announcements, including backing from Power2Parent Action, the political arm of the Power2Parent group that advocates for parents’ rights in education.

He was also backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which bills itself as the world’s largest business organization and is a powerful Washington, D.C., lobbying group for businesses of all sizes.

Amodei also announced he has received the Guardian of Small Business award from the National Federation of Independent Business and an A+ rating from the Firearm Industry Trade Association. (He did better than his colleagues on that one; every other member of Nevada’s federal delegation got an F.)

And Amodei got an endorsement from the Coalition of Independent Nevadans, which released a bipartisan list that included Democrats such as Catherine Cortez Masto and Steven Horsford and Republicans such as Mark Robertson (running in the 1st Congressional District) and April Becker (running in the 3rd District).

Speaking of endorsements

Would-be Nevada secretary of state Cisco Aguilar got some high-profile backing this week, when Lin-Manuel Miranda endorsed his candidacy.

“His opponent is an election denier and a conspiracy theorist whose goal is to make it harder for people to vote,” Miranda said in a message on Twitter, referring to ex-Nevada Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who has insisted the 2020 election was fraudulent and advocated a return to hand-counting paper ballots.

“Cisco is an attorney and small-business owner, and he has what it takes to do the job,” Miranda adds. “And something I’m passionate about: He would be Nevada’s first Latino secretary of state. We need Cisco in office, so please chip in what you can.”

(Note: This item was prepared entirely without punny references to “Hamilton.” See, people: It can be done!)

And still speaking of endorsements

(Most of) the chambers of commerce love Clark County sheriff and gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo: The Henderson Chamber of Commerce and the Latin Chamber of Commerce have backed the two-term lawman in his race for governor against incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak. But it was Sisolak who snagged the endorsement of the Vegas Chamber, a move that surprised some.

And one more endorsement noted

Sisolak was endorsed by the Clark County Education Association in 2018, but the group announced recently it would not make any endorsement at all in the governor’s race this year. The teachers union said it interviewed both Sisolak and Lombardo but didn’t like either man’s answers to questions about education policy going forward.

The non-endorsement had to come as a bitter blow to Sisolak, who signed a mining tax bill that the teachers union campaigned for during the 2021 Legislature that was designed to raise more money for education.

But never fear: This week, the Nevada State Education Association — a bitter rival of the Clark County group — did endorse Sisolak in the race.

“I’m honored to receive NSEA’s endorsement and commend them for their tireless advocacy on behalf of our students, teachers, and support staff,” Sisolak said in a statement.

“And forget you, CCEA!” the governor did not add.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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