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Education reform crucial for Nevada to compete in global marketplace, Sandoval says

Updated Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 | 5:05 p.m.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said there’s still work to be done, but “the road is getting a bit easier” in transforming the state’s economic development policy.

In a 30-minute address to about 700 people attending the Nevada Development Authority’s annual meeting, Sandoval said there are challenges ahead in funding education, which he said is critical in achieving the state’s economic development mission.

“Nevada now competes in a global marketplace,” Sandoval said. “Our children and our grandchildren must be able to compete globally so we must think about the future of our schools, our colleges, our universities and all our training programs. They have to change to meet the conditions of the new normal and the brave new world of tomorrow.”

Sandoval recognized the improvement of the Clark County School District’s top performing schools and credited Superintendent Dwight Jones as “a warrior for improving schools in Nevada.”

“I’m sure that Dr. Jones would agree that our work’s not yet done,” he said.

Sandoval said he is working with Jim Guthrie, Nevada’s new superintendent of public instruction, on the next phase of education reform for the state that will be debated in the 2013 legislative session.

The governor also recognized Chancellor Dan Klaich, who is an ex-officio member of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development board of directors, and UNLV President Neal Smatresk.

“Both the president and the chancellor have been there every step of the way,” Sandoval said. “(Klaich) is at every meeting and takes every phone call and does everything that he can possibly do to make Nevada a better state.”

Sandoval said Guthrie, Klaich, Smatresk and Frank Woodbeck, director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, would “strengthen the links between the world of education policy and the world of economic development.”

One area that Sandoval said his education advisers are addressing is expanding information technology curriculum and certification development at schools so that skilled workers would be available to fill jobs anticipated with the recruitment and expansion of tech companies in the state.

“I’ve received a lot of feedback that Nevada is not producing enough IT industry professionals and the demand is only growing,” Sandoval said. “But we’re on the move in every part of Nevada on multiple policy fronts. We continue to have high hopes and high expectations.”

He said that progress in developing new policies is making the journey easier, but he acknowledged that challenges remain.

Friday’s meeting, at the Bellagio, also was the first appearance of Tom Skancke as the new chief executive of the NDA. Skancke, a longtime transportation consultant in Southern Nevada, was appointed to the post in October.

Skancke pledged to reshape Southern Nevada as a business destination as well as a tourist destination.

Prior to the meeting, Sandoval met with representatives of 35 companies that have moved to or expanded in Southern Nevada in the 2012 fiscal year. Those 35 companies have provided 2,126 primary and secondary jobs and produce an economic impact of more than $393 million in a year.

There are 28 companies new to the area with 1,379 jobs with an average wage of $21.91 an hour. Seven companies expanded in the area, adding 747 jobs with average pay of $20.60 an hour.

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