Educational Excellence fund center of dispute

A dispute over Gov. Kenny Guinn's proposed $50 million a year fund for innovative elementary school programs in Nevada took two steps Monday toward a showdown.

Guinn's proposal allows elementary schools to apply to a specially created commission for grants to support innovative programs designed to keep them from falling into trouble with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

First the Senate voted to pass the governor's plan 15-5 after rejecting an amendment from Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, that would have divided the money into three pots for remediation, prevention and innovation. She said her plan would also give the State Board of Education control over granting the money.

Titus argued there was no need to create another layer of bureaucracy to administer the funds. She also said all schools should be able to seek the money, not just those which have failed to make required yearly progress

The amendment died on a party-line vote.

Just two hours later, the Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted to amend AB525 to incorporate the $50 million a year and put it in the hands of the Board of Education, rather than a commission.

The Assembly Democrats also added provisions to allow schools and districts to use the money for all-day kindergarten as well as "innovative programs," should they choose. They, too, would turn responsibility for distributing the money over to the Board of Education rather than creating a new commission to dole it out.

Assembly members have argued since the governor announced the Commission on Educational Excellence that the money would be better spent on all-day kindergarten than on a series of small, undefined programs.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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