The sight of school buses outside Nevada’s seven state museums has become less common in the years since the recession hit in 2007 as school districts dealing with tight budgets cut spending on field trips and their related transportation costs.
Now a pilot program approved during the 2017 Nevada Legislature has been launched to help cover those transportation costs and get the students back to the state museums.
As part of its budget process, the Legislature approved $250,000 in each year of the biennium to help fund the program, which targets, but is not limited to, fourth-grader classrooms around the state. Typically, Nevada curriculum standards include teaching Nevada history primarily in the fourth grade.
Visiting the museums gives students an opportunity to experience Nevada’s history through artifacts and other content, said Peter Barton, administrator of the Nevada Division of Museums and History.
“Museums provide that authentic content,” Barton said. “We make it real. It can be abstract when it’s read in a book, but when you come in and see those artifacts, it makes it real.”
Working in partnership with the Nevada Department of Education, the state museums launched the pilot program in November. The program provides educators with the ability to request both a school tour and reimbursement for bus transportation in a single, web-based transaction. Educators select the museum they want their students to visit and submit the form on that museum’s website.
The program applies only to the seven Nevada State Museums — Nevada State Museum Carson City, Nevada State Museum Las Vegas, Lost City Museum, Nevada Historical Society, Nevada State Railroad Museum Boulder City, Nevada State Railroad Museum Carson City, and the East Ely Railroad Depot Museum. Their websites can all be accessed via www.nvculture.org/museums/.
During the two weeks since the program launched, more than 20 schools statewide have submitted applications, including 10 from Clark County and eight from Washoe County.
While the school bus transportation program was envisioned as a means to get fourth grade students into the geographically nearest Nevada state museum, consideration will be given to providing the transportation offset funding for other than fourth grade students and other than the nearest state museum so long as funding is available. Requests should be made no less than 20 days prior to the desired date for your tour.