Since I first was elected in 2010, we have been able to add hundreds of millions of dollars back into our schools that had been cut in the recession. While we still must find more funding sources, I’m glad that we are investing in early childhood education, class size reduction, resources for improved classroom instruction, and programs for English-language learners, which is an important piece of closing the achievement gap and raising our graduation rates. We also provided scholarships for prospective teachers, opportunity for professional development, and incentives for teachers to teach in at-risk schools.
One of our biggest accomplishments of the legislature this session was bringing forth the Education Funding Formula, also known as Senate Bill 543. The Education Funding Formula has not been changed in the last 50 years, and with the growing economy and population, it was time to create a formula that would help with our education needs now and in the future.
In 2016 the National Education Association ranked Nevada as having the highest student teacher ratio at 22 to 1. This last legislative session we worked tirelessly in ways in which we can improve our education system. Assembly Bill 304 requires the board of trustees every year to publish the exact student teacher ratio, not an average rate, within each classroom in the districts. The Department of Education will make recommendations for non-binding ratios for counselors and social workers in elementary and secondary schools. The school must have a plan of action to reduce class size ratio, when applying for a class size variance. This is just one of the steps we are taking towards improving our school districts.
Great education doesn't stop after K-12. Making sure that our Higher Education is affordable for our students to continue their education so they can integrate their way into the workforce needs to be addressed. Nevada System of Higher Education tuition costs are on the rise at a rate higher than the current inflation rate. We worked diligently this session and will continue to work with UNR and UNLV to discuss the increased tuition rate and the issues that students face with future college fees. We want to make sure that college tuition in Nevada is affordable, especially to local Nevadans who want to continue their education in this state.
As the mother of four, with one child in Washoe County schools, I am deeply committed to improving education for my family—and for YOUR Nevada family too. I have always believed that the key to a child’s success in school is the involvement of his or her parent, grandparent or guardian. That is why an important priority for me has always been improving the opportunity for parental involvement in our schools. I sponsored legislation in 2011 that required school districts to develop plans to better involve parents. I continue to closely monitor these efforts.
As a longtime advocate for increasing parental involvement in our schools, I will continue to work to make sure we do all we can to get more parents involved in their children’s education. We must continue to work together to find ways to reduce overcrowding in our schools and individual classrooms. As we continue to work to bring new businesses and high-paying jobs to northern Nevada, we must make sure we are meeting workforce demands by preparing our students for today’s jobs.