Nevada Education Supporters Meet in Reno - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Nevada Education Supporters Meet in Reno

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Improving education for all of Nevada's students was the topic today (Thursday) at the 5th annual Family Engagement in Education Summit in Reno. Inside the conference room at UNR there was no shortage of people who want our local schools to succeed: over 600 teachers, parents, school officials and politicians filled the Joe Crowley Student Union, to support what's needed to do just that. The focus this year: education reform, the value of diversity and engaging all families.

At the same time, there's a battle brewing. The ever-present budgetary issues still have not been resolved, or even improved much. As Barbara Clark, president of the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees told us, "We've taken an average of $50 million in cuts every year since 2006."

After years of cuts, both local and statewide, school advocates now have their hopes set on the controversial margins tax proposal, or as they call it here, the education initiative. As State Senator Debbie Smith described it, "It's a 2% tax on business when they have a million dollar gross threshold in a nutshell."

This November, voters decide on imposing that tax to fund education. Businesses are united against it. But Craig Stevens of the Nevada State Education Association, which sponsored the issue, says ‘It's about time they stepped up and did what they need to do to help our kids. What did he say to opponents who believe it will kill Nevada's economy, discouraging new businesses to develop or move here to avoid paying a new tax? "Well I would say pretty much every state has a broad based business tax out there. We have one of the lowest tax rates for business in the nation."

Stevens says after millions in cuts over the last few years, schools are going without. He told us, "There's a lack of textbooks...kids are sitting on the floor. A lot of this is in Clark County where they don't have enough room for kids. They ran out of portable units there."

Washoe County schools still need a way to fund their capital projects, after the county commission killed AB 46, the tax bill for making building repairs. Today, the district says it has $20-30 million a year in unfunded maintenance. They also need money for a new remote security system. Barbara Clark says they want to "put a new lock on every classroom door, so that the teachers don't have to go outside in the hall or outside the building to lock their door, they can do it from inside."

Another innovation is closer to reality: involving parents through their smartphones and social media. As Clark told us, "We always have to communicate with our parents. It's no longer about having the parents come to school between 9 and 3."

-written by John Potter

The Coalition to Defeat the Margin Tax Initiative released this statement:
"The huge tax increase proposed by the Margin Tax Initiative would severely damage our state's already struggling economy, cause the loss of thousands of jobs and cost Nevada consumers millions of dollars in higher costs for food, clothing, electricity, health care, insurance and other goods and services they buy -- all without guaranteeing more funding for education. That's why it's opposed by a statewide coalition that represents tens of thousands of Nevada employers, farmers, taxpayers and consumers."

To get involved and/or volunteer with your neighborhood school, "Communities in Schools Nevada," the Nevada Department of Education and the Washoe County School District are good places to start. Click the links below:

http://www.cisnevada.org/

http://www.doe.nv.gov/Topic/Parents_and_Students/

http://www.washoe.k12.nv.us/district/departments/volunteering

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