GOP bills target education reforms
February 28, 2013
Two Republican-backed bills introduced Wednesday in the Nevada Senate seek to impose new education reforms affecting under-performing schools and teacher layoffs.
SB195, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, would allow parents of students in under-performing schools to petition the school board to make specific changes, including the governance structure..
SB193, sponsored by Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, would require school districts to consider the evaluations of teachers and administrators when determining layoffs and is an extension of reforms passed by the 2011 Legislature.
One of those created a four-tier teacher and administrator evaluation system that replaced a two-tier system. It also set out a schedule to base 50 percent of teacher ratings on student achievement. Another ended “last in, first out” by barring districts from laying off teachers solely based on seniority. Republicans insisted on that change in the waning days of the session as part of a budget compromise.
Under existing law, evaluations can be considered when layoffs are implemented. Brower said the goal of his bill is to require that performance evaluations be factored when layoff decisions are made.
Roberson’s bill would allow parents or guardians of students in schools designated as needing improvement to petition the district to take specified intervention action. For elementary schools, petition backers would need signatures from 51 percent of parents or guardians of students enrolled. For middle, junior high or high schools, the pool of petitioners would include parents of students expected to enroll the following school year.
Actions could include closing a school and reopening it as a charter or empowerment school, where administrators and teachers are given autonomy over staffing, scheduling and teaching methods.
Nevada established a program for empowerment schools in 2007, though funding was eliminated in 2009 because of budget cuts.
Both bills come as Democrats are pushing their own education proposals, including mandating all-day kindergarten, limiting class sizes in early elementary school grades and expanding pre-kindergarten programs – a package that comes with an estimated price tag exceeding $300 million not included in Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget.