Las Vegas Sun

March 24, 2017

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Gibbons: Special session would target test scores law

Sun Coverage

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons said Tuesday that if he calls a special session of the Legislature he might ask lawmakers to repeal a law preventing Nevada from competing for up to $175 million in federal funds for public schools.

“It will be one of the high priorities” on a list for lawmakers to address during a special session, he said.

Gibbons said Nevada can’t qualify to apply for the federal funds in the U.S. Department of Education’s “Race To The Top” program.

The program was included in the American Recovery Act passed by Congress this year. It contains $4.3 billion that will be awarded to 20 states on a competitive basis. Nevada could get $70 million to $175 million.

Federal regulations bar states from competing for the money if they have a law that prohibits student test scores from being used to evaluate teachers.

Nevada is one of four states that had the student test score laws on the books. But California, New York and Wisconsin have or are repealing them, leaving Nevada the only state that would not be able to compete for the money.

That law was enacted at the special session of the Legislature in 2003. Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, introduced a bill to repeal that law in the 2009 session. It was passed by the Senate 21-0 on May 29 but died in the Assembly Education Committee when the Legislature adjourned June 1.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault said he has talked with the governor’s staff about the law but hasn’t received a firm commitment that it would be on the agenda for a special session.

The governor calls special sessions and sets an agenda that lawmakers may consider.

The governor repeated he won’t know until the end of this month or early December if or when he will convene a special session to address the financial problems of the state.

He wants to first see the latest tax collections figures.

“There is some indication some revenues are bouncing up and down” the governor said. “I want to see an overall trend.”

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