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Bill would allow Vegas school district to disband

Riley Snyder
Associated Press

A group of Nevada Republicans are bringing forward a bill allowing for the break-up of the Clark County School District, despite the district’s opposition.

Freshman Assemblyman David Gardner is sponsoring AB394, which was heard Monday in the Assembly Education Committee.

Gardner said he’s bringing the bill forward because the current school district has too many layers of bureaucracy and parents feel like they don’t have a way to make their voices heard.

“I like government closer to people,” he said. “When you have an organization this large, it’s hard for parents to have a say.”

The bill would allow local governments to draft a plan for an individual school district, which would then need to be approved by the state board of education before officially breaking off. Gardner said the bill wouldn’t affect countywide school funding, and newly created school districts could work out agreements for busing and other school services.

Clark County School District lobbyist Joyce Haldeman said the district is generally open to the idea of breaking up if it helps students, but the bill didn’t answer questions about resolving debt or agreements with contractors.

“AB394 leaves more questions than any of the bills I’ve ever seen,” Haldeman said, adding that she didn’t think all the questions could be answered by the end of the legislative session.

Republican co-sponsor Stephen Silberkraus said he’s supporting the bill because smaller school districts generally tend to see more success.

He said a Henderson school district, in the area he represents, could be one of the top in the nation.

Lawmakers have attempted to break up the Las Vegas district several times since the 1970s, most recently through a 2008 deconsolidation bill that was never passed.

Democratic Assemblyman Elliot Anderson said he was concerned that separating the district would lead to infighting over education funding.

“I think there’s a lot of angst about creating winners and losers with this bill,” Anderson said during the hearing.

Gardner said any plan to break off individual school districts would need to be heavily researched.

“This isn’t some willy-nilly plan written on the back of a napkin,” Gardner said. “This will be a data-driven process.”