Governor’s school plan might lack funding | NevadaAppeal.com

Governor’s school plan might lack funding

Associated Press

The governor might have to come up with an alternative funding source for his $60 million plan to “empower” 100 public schools through localized decision making, Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley says.

Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said during a hearing on the public schools budget that lawmakers might decide to keep a program now in place to award retirement credits to teachers who work in at-risk schools or in hard-to-fill instructional areas such as science and math.

Gibbons, who believed that the retirement credit program was not supported by school superintendents across the state, proposed using the money instead for the empowerment schools program.

But Buckley said Tuesday that legislators might opt to retain the retirement credit program, with some possible changes.

The Ways and Means Committee is requesting a bill draft to restructure the retirement credit program to make it more flexible, she said.

If the Legislature chooses to retain the incentive money, “believing it is important for at-risk schools to retain math and science teachers,” Buckley said, the question will have to be asked how the empowerment model will be funded.

Buckley made her comments at a joint Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means budget subcommittee reviewing the public schools budget.

Gibbons has said he opposes any tax increases to fund state government, so it could be a challenge to find a source of money in the proposed 2007-09 spending plan to pay for his empowerment schools program.

The empowerment program sought by Gibbons is based on one set up in Edmonton, Alberta, in which school principals control almost all spending. Principals work with teachers, unions and parents to determine how to instruct students. Teachers are given a lot of leeway in classes but still must meet standards.

Of the $60 million proposed for the program by Gibbons, $15 million of the total would be for merit pay for teachers in the pilot empowerment schools.

A bill providing details of how the program would work is expected to be introduced in the Senate in the next few days.