Carson City Schools superintendent cautious about anti-bullying bill | NevadaAppeal.com
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Carson City Schools superintendent cautious about anti-bullying bill

John Barrette
jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com

Carson City’s Richard Stokes took to a bully pulpit of sorts Tuesday to analyze anti-bullying legislation with a wary eye.

Stokes, the city’s school district superintendent, read for a Rotary Club luncheon audience from Senate Bill 504 of the 2015 Nevada Legislature to show the new law is a thicket of legalese and difficult to interpret, enforce or follow. Stokes, a Rotarian, then left his fellow club members with no doubt as to his view of dealing with the bullying definition and law.

“This is so difficult for my people to be able to do,” he said. “It’s even more stringent to report bullying then sexual abuse in our state. This really is a tough one for us.”

The superintendent, who said 62 bills impacting his district and education were enacted this year, could deal with just a few in his allotted speaking time.

He had questions about Senate Bill 302, the educational choice bill, saying one provision is in the way of parents who might want to take advantage of it. The measure, he said, creates educational savings accounts and would allow parents to seek some $5,710 — the amount per public school student — to provide recompense for private school expenses if that is the choice.

Stokes said, however, the measure requires students ages 7-18 to attend public schools for 100 days to trigger the option. He said parents don’t seem to want such split educational opportunities for their children.

“I don’t know whether SB 302 will live a long time,” he said, adding if it does modifications may be made.

Another measure coming under Stokes’ scrutiny was Senate Bill 391, the so-called “Read By Three” legislation that requires schools to make sure by the third grade children are reading at that grade level.

“Every kid is a little bit different,” he said, noting holding third-graders back from the next grade may not be the best solution.

He called Senate Bill 201 “very helpful” because it allows school district bonding for an additional 10 years via so-called rollover school bonds. But he’s less enthusiastic about a provision of education funding measures, which are Senate Bills 508 and 515, saying Carson City could lose state funds because four different days’ enrollment counts are used rather than just one early in the academic year.

He expressed concern about provisions in Assembly Bill 448, which he indicated could trigger a school Achievement District takeover of a school under certain circumstances to make it into a charter school rather than a public school.

Stokes said much 2015 education legislation was aimed at increasing accountability. He said he chose the ones he outlined during his talk Tuesday that are “relatively meaty.”