Las Vegas Sun

August 20, 2019

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Search starts for Nevada school superintendent

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval has praised the strides made in education in the state of Florida but the Nevada Board of Education is being cautioned not to follow too closely when selecting a new state school chief.

State Superintendent Keith Rheault is retiring after eight years in the top job and 27 years in the state Department of Education.

The board of education held a public hearing Thursday to get public comment on what it should look for in sizing up the candidates to succeed Rheault.

Sam King, a member of the League of Women Voters, told the board the new superintendent must hold allegiance to the students and community. “The governor supports Florida. This is not Florida.”

King said she doesn’t know if Sandoval has enough time to do the interviewing and selecting with the economic mess the state is in.

Jane Newton, also of Las Vegas, said it was clear Florida is Sandoval’s model. She said she feared the state will follow too closely a model in which everything is not known.

Newton, also a member of the League of Woman Voters, said Florida has hundreds of reading specialists that have brought the student scores up. Nevada doesn’t have that advantage.

She said Nevada can’t compare with Florida, which has never had more than 40 students in a class.

The state Personnel Department is accepting applications for the job, which pays a salary of $121,785, until Dec. 30. It will narrow the list down to the top six candidates. The education board will then conduct interviews in February and will recommend three names to the governor, who makes the final choice.

Jan Bickerstaff of Las Vegas said the education board has handed over the selection to the governor. She said the governor has failed to include extra funds special programs. And Sandoval will back a new superintendent who supports vouchers in the public school system.

Both she and King opposed the vouchers. Bickerstaff said they would result in the same problems, which include who will be held accountable.

The Legislature changed the law spelling out how a state superintendent is chosen to include the governor as making the appointment.

Although only four persons testified at the meeting of the board Thursday, Rheault said groups representing teachers and minorities appeared at past meetings to give their views on the qualifications needed for the new superintendent.

The qualifications include the candidates being at least 21 years old, having a master’s degree in education or school administration, having experience in the classrooms, being able to create an “atmosphere of trust and mutual respect” and demonstrating an “ability to inspire, motivate and build consensus” among leaders in the Legislature, the business community, parent groups and among school officials.

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