A legislative panel on Monday named state Sen. Joe Hardy and local business leaders to two committees that will help develop a plan to split the Clark County School District within the next three years.
Under Assembly Bill 394, which went into effect last month, the Nevada Legislature must appoint eight of its members to serve on a committee that will study how best to break the nation’s fifth-largest school district into an unspecified number of local precincts by the 2018-19 school year.
The bill also allows the Legislative Commission, a group of lawmakers that serve in between legislative sessions, to select any member who represents a district within Clark County.
Hardy, R-Boulder City, received unanimous approval from the Legislative Commission to fill that appointment.
“I think it is very important that we have someone who represents the rural portions of Clark County on this committee,” said Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, who chairs the interim commission.
The commission also appointed four community leaders to serve on a separate technical advisory committee, which AB 394 charges with offering the main committee “expertise, input, advice and assistance.” The four appointees include:
Hannah Brown of the Urban Chamber of Commerce,
Stavan Corbett of the Nevada Parent Teacher Association,
Tom Rodriguez of the Latin Chamber of Commerce and
John Vellardita, of the Clark County Education Association.
A fifth appointment representing the Asian Chamber Commerce is pending.
Other interested parties, including the governor’s office and each incorporated city in Clark County, also will have the chance to make appointments to the technical advisory committee. On Thursday, the Clark County School Board will vote on appointing one of its members to the committee.
Also Monday, the commission voted 11-1 to adopt regulations that would implement the controversial Common Core standards for high school math.
Nevada previously received a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind education law, which included strict accountability measures, on the basis that it adopt more rigorous academic standards in its public schools.
But Assemblyman Ira Hansen, who provided the lone vote against adoption of the regulations, said he hears more opposition from his constituents against Common Core than any other issue.
“Common Core is a deep, deep concern for folks who have children in the public schools,” said Hansen, R-Sparks.
“We’re replacing one set of federal standards with another set of federal standards within less than a decade, acknowledging that the reason were doing that is we feel that the original one — the No Child Left Behind — either didn’t meet expectations or in fact failed our public schools,” he added. “And now once again were going and adopting a federal mandatory type of system that it appears to me that parents of the state of Nevada reject.”
Steve Canavero, state deputy superintendent of student achievement, clarified that the U.S. Department of Education does not mandate adoption of the Common Core standards.
However, Canavero also noted that Nevada could risk losing millions of dollars in federal funds if it fails to meet certain requirements for a more rigorous set of academic standards.
Before the vote, Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, countered criticism of Common Core.
“I hear a lot of interesting rhetoric,” she said. “But then I look at the actual standards, and I see that we’re talking about concepts of fractions and geometry, and it’s math.
“I can’t think of how political and uncomfortable parents might be with math,” Benitez-Thompson added. “Ultimately, I think you’d be more uncomfortable not having any type of standards.”
Contact Neal Morton at email@example.com or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @nealtmorton