Group protests proposed K-12 cuts | NevadaAppeal.com

Group protests proposed K-12 cuts

Nevadans for Quality Education held candlelight vigils in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City Wednesday to protest Gov. Jim Gibbons’ plan to cut public school funding by 4.5 percent.

In Carson City, 23 people braved the approaching winter storm to join the vigil. But in the winds coming over the Sierra, lighting the candles for more than a second or two was out of the question.

Mary Jo Parise-Malloy, an NQE director, flew from Las Vegas to make the point outside the Nevada Legislature, saying the group wants “to draw attention to the issue and get the governor to reconsider.”

She was joined by Terry Hickman, executive director of the Nevada State Education Association, which represents teachers statewide.

“The education budget is 85-90 percent educators, people. So to have those cuts, they will impact our children.”

Malloy told the small group that a recent study showed that K-12 education in Nevada needs another $1 billion cash infusion, yet, shortly after that study was released, the governor announced he was cutting back education funding by more than $96 million.

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Hickman agreed, saying Nevada education is “at the top of every bad list and the bottom of every good list.”

He said the cuts would be especially difficult to handle this school year.

“This is in the middle of this school year,” he said. “We have a budget in place and programs going.”

Hickman said contracts have been signed, many programs have already been funded and there is no way to get the money back out of them.

Heather Gomer of Nevada PTA in Carson City said education can’t achieve its goals without proper funding. She said the state and the governor “need to make a serious commitment to education.”

“When decisions are being made about education, school officials should be sitting at the table.”

In fact, the state’s 17 school district superintendents are meeting with Gibbons this morning at the Capitol to discuss the impact of his proposed cuts.

Malloy said attendance was much higher in Southern Nevada, where more than 100 people turned out at each of two different meetings, and in Reno, where more than 50 had signed up to attend. She said NQE is urging all those interested in protecting education from cuts to call or e-mail the governor, asking him to reconsider.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.