'Public Schools Week' to Highlight WCSD Issues - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

'Public Schools Week' to Highlight WCSD Issues

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The 2013 legislative session is just a few weeks away, and that means lawmakers and lobbyists are busy getting their priorities in line. At the top of the list this time around: education.

Monday was the first day of "Public Schools Week," an awareness campaign put on by the local group Parent Leaders for Education. Volunteers took Channel 2 on a tour of a Reno elementary school to see the problems that they said just can't wait.

"If we were in an emergency situation where we needed to lock down, all of our blinds are not functional in these classrooms," Roy Gomm Elementary School Principal KayAnn Pilling explained during a tour of the building.

At Roy Gomm, you'll find a mix of the old and the new. At nearly 50 years, it is one of the oldest buildings in the district. And although a very active parent organization has donated thousands to keep it updated, Gomm, like many other Washoe County Schools, is showing its age.

"A lot of times we either have water that doesn't come out at all, or drips and comes out when we don't want it to," Pilling demonstrated, while showing some of the original fixtures in the classrooms.

Capital improvements like these are among the main priorities for parents and education leaders this legislative session. They said heating and air, roofing, flooring, even safety issues like locks and double-paned windows, are overdue for some attention.

"We have these ripples in [the carpets], which are trip hazards," Pilling said, pointing to an area where the carpet in a classroom was split and bunched. "Those are certainly trip hazards, and at some point, they can't be repaired anymore."

Parent Leaders for Education is running events like their tour of Roy Gomm all week, in the hopes that voters will call their representatives and ask for better funding.

"They can invest in the students," PLE volunteer Andrea Hughs-Baird said, "and that is the best way to create a new Nevada."

Although many legislators have already voiced their support for bolstering the school budget, some said it is not as simple as it seems.

"The challenge is that any piece of legislation has to be passed statewide," District 25 Assemblyman Pat Hickey said. "So we have to find that there will be buy-in from rural and southern Nevada lawmakers."

Hickey said to make this pass, voters are going to have to log some serious phone time.

"Politicians and lawmakers listen to their constituents," Hickey said. "So if the public in Washoe County really feels that this is an important need, you're going to see a lot better chance of lawmakers stepping up to the plate and trying to find the money."

Monday was the first day of Public Schools Week. On Tuesday they will take a look at the lack of higher-level technology available to students. Wednesday is focused on promoting all-day Kindergarten. On Thursday they will take a look at the use of grant money. And "Read by Three" Friday will focus on making sure kids can read by third grade.

For more information, and to see a schedule, click here.

Written by Arianna Bennett
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