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COMMENTARY: Give Nevada schools financial flexibility

One of government’s great challenges is remaining flexible enough to respond to the changes in our constantly evolving world. When government is not flexible, regulations can hold back businesses and institutions, binding them with outdated rules.

When government adapts, however, we liberate our communities to respond to market changes and new innovations.

This is exactly why I have introduced Senate Bill 106, an amendment to restrictive education spending requirements that lock certain schools into school supply spending levels that are not always necessary.

This bill sets Nevada up to respond to ongoing changes in education, such as the fact that more high-quality and free education material is available to students than ever before. While these school spending requirements might have made sense when physical textbooks were the primary education tool, they certainly don’t take into account the new ways that students can access cutting-edge education information in the digital age.

For instance, the growth of Open Educational Resources (often referred to as OERs) shows how the most up-to-date and relevant education resources today are sometimes free.

Locking school districts into set spending requirements when the best education material is free is both wasteful and nonsensical. That’s why I drafted a bill that provides the flexibility to spend that money in other more useful ways if a school district can show the need. Provisions are written into the bill to ensure school districts that need this flexibility receive it and other districts still spend the needed funding on education material.

The bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee. Teachers have already publicly expressed support for the measure and the flexibility it provides.

I look forward to seeing the bill come up for a vote and hope that classrooms that are taking advantage of the most up-to-date education material can allocate funding to other important priorities for their students.

It’s one small but important step toward making an education system that is adapted to the present and future, and it’s one more way that government can help, and not hinder, the education of our next generation.

Ben Kieckhefer, a Republican, represents District 16 — which includes Carson City, parts of Washoe County and Incline Village — in the Nevada Senate.

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