Las Vegas Sun

December 3, 2022

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Panel: Governor shouldn’t appoint state education superintendent

CARSON CITY – A legislative committee has rejected a suggestion that the governor should appoint the state school chief, who is now selected by the state Board of Education.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell, chairwoman of the Legislative Committee on Education, said there would be no distance from politics if the governor got such appointment authority.

The committee also rejected the recommendation of Gov. Jim Gibbons that the state superintendent of public instruction should be in his cabinet.

“The current system has failed us,” Gibbons said in a letter sent to the committee.

Gibbons said 34 percent of the state’s budget goes to support schools in Nevada. He said the superintendent should be accountable to the governor in a cabinet-level position.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, suggested the governor have the authority to name the school chief. She said this would help the superintendent and the governor work more closely.

Cegavske didn't get any support. She then recommended the state superintendent be elected, and that failed to get a second.

The legislative committee voted to change the makeup of the elected 10-member state Board of Education and to give the state superintendent more authority over local districts.

Chris Wallace, president of the board, said it supports the present system of the board appointment. He said the board welcomes more authority to hold districts accountable.

“We want to take the heat,” said Wallace, of Las Vegas.

The committee voted to have a resident elected from each congressional district for four-year terms. There would be three voting members appointed – one each by the governor, the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the Assembly.

These appointees would come from business, or be teachers, parents or guardians.

The change would become effective in the 2012 election. There would also be non-voting members representing such groups as students.

Parnell, D-Carson City, said the committee is also recommending eliminating many advisory boards, transferring the programs to the state board, whose name would be changed to the state Commission on K-12 Public Instruction.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, pushed for and the committee agreed that the state board should be setting specific goals. Examples would be higher grade averages and more students going to college or graduating from high school.

“We don’t need any reports that the schools are failing,” Horsford said. Plans to correct the shortcomings are needed, he said.

The superintendent would require school districts that are failing to present a corrective plan. The superintendent also would be required to present an annual report on the state of public education.

The recommendations will be presented to the 2011 Legislature.

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