Seat shuffling at Board of Education as Wynn departs, Newburn appointed

Mark Newburn (Courtesy photo)

Mark Newburn may have lost his re-election bid, but he will still serve on the Nevada Board of Education.

Mark Newburn (Courtesy photo)

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced the appointment of Newburn to serve on the board, which consists of appointed and elected members. Newburn will succeed billionaire philanthropist Elaine Wynn, who has sat on the board since being appointed by former Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2012.

Wynn’s departure is effective at the end of the calendar year and Newburn’s appointment will be effective when his current term ends in January, according to a release from the Department of Education.

Wynn and Newburn have served as board president and vice president, respectively, since 2017.

Newburn was first elected to the board in 2012. He won reelection in 2016. The founder of technology company Vizics Inc, Newburn has been a longtime STEM advocate and worked on statewide initiatives related to science, technology, engineering and math.

Succeeding Newburn in the District 4 elected seat will be Rene Cantu. Cantu is the executive director of Jobs for Nevada Graduates (also known as J4NG and JAG Nevada), which helps vulnerable youth finish high school. Cantu defeated Newburn 52 percent to 48 percent.

No other changes to the appointed members have been announced.

Eleven people sit on the board. Four are elected by voters. The other seven are appointed by the governor or various public bodies.

On the elected side, two fellow newcomers will join Cantu on the board in January. Katie Coombs, a columnist and motivational speaker, ran unopposed in District 2. Hughes, who works for an education nonprofit, narrowly defeated a charter school teacher to represent District 1. The fourth elected member, Felicia Ortiz, won her District 3 seat during the 2020 primary by securing more than 50 percent of the vote. The Board of Education districts align with Nevada’s Congressional Districts.

The Nevada Board of Education next meets Thursday. Their agenda includes: a report and discussion on graduation rates for the 2019-2020 school year, a report and discussion on ACT assessment results for the 2019-2020 school year, and updates from the State Superintendent Jhone Ebert on Covid-19 and the Commission on School Funding.

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. April currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. 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, two children and three mutts.