EDITORIAL: State of the schools

We’ve long argued that money alone won’t fix Nevada’s struggling schools. Thankfully, Gov. Brian Sandoval agrees.

In his State of the State address Thursday, Gov. Sandoval proposed tax increases to fund lots of new funding for public education — lots and lots of new funding. His $7.3 billion budget for 2015-17 is about $800 million larger than the spending plan that expires June 30, and almost all that new money would flow to schools. Gov. Sandoval proposes using that money to add pre-kindergarten classes; expand full-day kindergarten to all Nevada schools; and grow English Language Learner, gifted education and career and technical programs, among other initiatives.

But he also proposed the most ambitious school accountability and school choice agenda the state has ever seen. He proposed funding to expand charter schools; a framework to allow state/charter takeovers of persistently failing public schools and place them in a separate district; restructuring school boards from elected to appointed bodies; scholarships for low-income students to be used at private schools; and giving local governments the ability to split apart or consolidate school districts.

Yes, if lawmakers approve, the behemoth Clark County School District could be broken into separate school systems. That would certainly improve school choice.

The governor’s budget and tax increase plan will be hotly debated. We’ll have a lot to say about both in the coming weeks. But there’s no debating that Nevada schools need more resources and major reforms to put the state on a path to a more prosperous future.

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