Nevada State Board of Education votes to proceed with start time survey

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The Nevada State Board of Education on March 27 voted to begin a survey on high school start times to be distributed to schools and stakeholders and examine the data when complete.

Members asked to begin collecting data during their January meeting and said results would shape the board’s direction on its draft regulation for start times. The original intent was to set guardrails for all district high schools and charter schools in the state and to work with their community needs.

Discussion also covered the return of the legal opinion on two options from the Legislative Counsel Bureau addressing language in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) and the board’s authority over these guardrails. Deputy Attorney General David Gardner summarized the discussion he’s had with the LCB’s legal team since January.

The first option comes from NRS 388.090 and Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 387.125, which address providing a program of instruction based on an alternative schedule. NAC 387.125 directs school boards in counties of less than 100,000 that are seeking to offer programs based on alternative schedules to apply to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and submit a copy of their proposed calendar for the next school year.

Gardner said Clark County uses this portion of the code for rural areas but not metropolitan areas.

This first option also offers schools much flexibility, he said. Board members have expressed an interest in providing a waiver process and the ability for families to opt in or out of mandated start times in past meetings, Gardner said.

The second option is for the board, which oversees diplomas and credit granting, to create a requirement for schools to start after 8 a.m. in order for students to obtain credits for certain classes. There is less flexibility available in this option, Gardner said.

The LCB has not guaranteed these options are legal, he said, so conversation continues on the matter.

Member Michael Keyes of Las Vegas, a student representing the Nevada Association of Student Councils, said he likely would only support option one because he felt it was important to offer the waiver process to schools and families and felt it might have a larger impact on Clark and Washoe ‑- the larger districts. He said start times are an issue for students who already feel disengaged in school and affect their schedules.

“The school system has taught them they don’t really care that’s what they (as students) think,” Keyes said. “…I think with this, we’re really finally getting to the root cause of why so many people feel that way or why kids don’t want to go school.”

Members talked about the state board data collection process. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert said a survey has been drafted and worked with a vendor but was awaiting the board’s decision on March 27.

“We will be able to do exactly what you’re doing by zip code,” Ebert said. “It is self-selection by students and parents. We do want to hear all voices on this if that’s still the direction the board wants to take, but we were waiting for tonight’s conversation.”

The survey, which would collect feedback from educators, families and community members, is meant to include diverse opinions at the local level. But member Tim Hughes asked what happens if results show a majority of community members want to proceed with changing the times.

Member Mike Walker, a principal in Lyon County who formerly advocated for homeless children in the state, said in interacting with superintendents and other decision-makers, it’s important to compromise and inform the public with consideration and respect.

“We have to sit down with people who make decisions and figure out what the need is and that community is asking for,” Walker said. “There are kids who are woken up much earlier than 5 a.m. for reasons that they’re in turmoil. It’s a complex issue and we need to speak with people in the communities, and if we want to figure it out what everybody’s wanting, we have to start with getting the data and then we need to start having those conversations. … And it’s going to take teamwork.”

Member and Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regent representative Joe Arrascada said it would be important to include the voices of school leadership as well to execute the daily decisions impacting students at all state schools.

“It seems if we go all for one or one for not, it may be eliminating the voice from numerous individuals,” he said. “…We have to make sure everybody’s going to be on board for this and I truly feel that way but I feel that each district superintendent unquestionably needs to be included in this conversation.”


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