Board Endorses Two Education Initiatives

By  | 

The state Board of Education has endorsed an initiative that calls for Nevada schools to be funded at or above the national average.

At the same time Saturday, the board voted to support another proposed constitutional amendment designed to make education the Legislature's top priority.

"This board needs to be the education leaders in this state," board member Barbara Myers said.

The Nevada State Education Association's initiative calls for the Legislature to fund public education at or above the national average starting in July 2012.

Nevada ranked 44th nationwide in per-pupil spending in a 2003 report compiled by the National Education Association.

The report found that total local and state spending per pupil in Nevada was $6,128, or $1,701 less than the $7,829 national average.

If in effect now, the proposal would require the Legislature to find $610 million a year in additional revenue for education.

Board member Theresa Malone said most Nevadans back higher education spending and too often their views are not supported by their legislators.

"This would reinforce what the public wants," she said.

The Education First initiative being pushed by Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., and his wife, Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, R-Reno, would force the Legislature to approve education funding before other parts of the state budget.

Last year, Democrats and Republicans accused each other of holding education funding hostage in a dispute over tax increases.

"Some Republicans think it only will bring more money for education," Gibbons said. "No. We just want education to be the priority."

Both initiatives require supporters to gather 51,234 valid signatures on petitions by June 15. The proposed constitutional amendments require voter approval in November and again in 2006 before they go into effect.