Undercurrent

Lieutenant governor proposes adding appointed members to school boards

By: - October 20, 2022 3:56 pm

The Clark County Education Association, which represents CCSD teachers, has argued that the existing school board is dysfunctional and that a hybrid board that included members vetted for their experience would lead to better oversight and progress. (Clark County School District photo)

Lieutenant Governor Lisa Cano Burkhead announced Thursday she intends to introduce a bill that would add appointed members to all of Nevada’s local school boards.

In her proposal, county commissions would appoint the presidents of all school boards statewide. That appointed president “would set the agenda and govern the trustees of the school board,” according to a press release. Additionally, each incorporated city with a population greater than 75,000 would appoint an individual member to their local school board.

For the Clark County School District, that would mean adding four members – a president appointed by the Clark County Commission, and three new trustees appointed by the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas. The Clark County School Board is currently a seven-member elected board. Similarly, Washoe County School Board would gain three new members – a president appointed by the Washoe County Commission and two new trustees appointed by the cities of Reno and Sparks.

The remaining 15 school boards would each receive one new member – the president, appointed by their respective rural county commissions.

Cano Burkhead, a former teacher, in a statement announcing the proposal called it “a path to professionalize and modernize our school boards so that we have more education experts to act in the best interests of our students.”

The push for fully appointed or hybrid appointed-elected school boards has most recently been pitched as a solution to infighting among trustees on the Clark County School Board. Bills related to switching governance models have been introduced in the last several legislative sessions, though none have advanced particularly far into the process.

Leaders from the Clark County Education Association, which represents CCSD teachers, have argued that the existing school board is dysfunctional and that a hybrid board that included members vetted for their experience would lead to better oversight and progress.

Commissioning a legislative report on school board governance was a part of a 2021 mining tax deal the union was involved in.

The Nevada State Education Association, which includes teacher unions in other parts of the state, has been outspoken against appointed boards, arguing having appointed members would not solve the biggest problems facing Nevada’s school districts.

Restructuring boards is not unheard of. The Nevada State Board of Education became a fully elected board in 1973 after two decades of having both appointed and elected members. Then, in 2011, it reverted back to the hybrid model of having both appointed and elected members.

Cano Burkhead, who was appointed to the lieutenant governor seat late last year by Gov. Steve Sisolak after Kate Marshall stepped down to take a job with the Biden administration, is currently running to retain her seat. Republican Stavros Anthony, who currently sits on the Las Vegas City Council, is running against her.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, three children and one mutt.

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