Gibbons to hold closed-door meeting |

Gibbons to hold closed-door meeting

Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., has scheduled a Monday meeting with the superintendents of Nevada’s 17 public school districts to discuss requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The meeting will be held behind closed doors at the Washoe School District Board Room.

The federal law has raised concerns from a number of public school officials who say it provides nowhere near enough money to cover the cost of mandates and that nearly all schools will end up on the “black list” of schools not meeting the required standards.

Asked why the meeting is being closed to the press and public, Gibbons representative Amy Spanbauer said, “We just want to do it as a small meeting.

“We want to have frank discussions, not with the media. We wanted supervisors to be able to ask the questions and have open dialog.”

She said Gibbons is offering himself as “a liaison between the schools and the federal government on this.” She said all the school officials’ concerns about the cost of the law, the process of designating schools as failing to meet the standards and others would be on the table, but that they would be discussed without the press and public in attendance to encourage a more open discussion.

She said future meetings could be held for parents and others.

No Child Left Behind is one of President George Bush’s key initiatives. Gibbons has been a vocal supporter of it, which he said “stands as the greatest reform of our education system in decades.” And he has said repeatedly he believes it is fully funded by the federal government – that Nevada will receive upwards of $100 million to implement it.

Gov. Kenny Guinn, however, has said on several occasions about $80 million is money the state has been receiving from the federal government for years under Title 1. It was simply redesignated as “No Child Left Behind” funding after the new law was passed.

That means only $20 million or so is new money and education officials say a significant share of that will be absorbed by testing and administrative costs necessary to meet the federal requirements.

Spanbauer said Gibbons will discuss those concerns with Nevada’s school district superintendents along with how best to implement the federal law.

He will be joined in the forum by Carolyn Snowbarger and Darla Marburger of the U.S. Department of Education.

“Everyone has the same goal,” Spanbauer said. “To ensure every child meets their potential and gets a quality education. This is what’s going to be discussed.”