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Brooks and Jara Provide Legislative Testimony Expressing Strong Support for Historic Proposed Education Funding Formula

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The Senate Finance Committee and Assembly Ways and Means Committee held a joint meeting to hear Senate Bill 543, which would modernize Nevada’s education funding formula. Below is testimony provided by Board of School Trustee President Lola Brooks and Clark County School District (CCSD) Superintendent Jesus F. Jara in strong support of the proposed new funding formula:

Testimony provided by Trustee President Lola Brooks:

Senator Woodhouse, Assemblywoman Carlton, and members of the joint committee – my name is Lola Brooks, and I serve as the President of the Board of School Trustees for the Clark County School District.

The Board of Trustees approved a legislative platform in December, which included modernizing the state’s education funding formula as our top priority. We support AB 543 and see it as a step forward in addressing the education funding issues within the state. We feel that the community also supports this; their support was expressed when they elected a record number of candidates who ran on this and other education funding issues during the last election cycle.

One of the main roles of the Board is to give final approval for the district’s budget. Over the past few years, this has been a painful process which included more than $120 million in budget cuts and while it’s true that we’ve made due…it’s important that we are all very clear about the fact that we’ve made due at the expense of our students and our staff. Our class sizes are the largest in the nation. A reduction in staffing has led to unmanageable workloads and our inability to budget for raises continues to take a toll on staff morale.

At this juncture, you have an opportunity to move us in a different direction by modernizing the state’s education funding formula. There are several reasons why we feel this is a positive step forward.

We need to stabilize the amount of funding the state provides for education. SB 543 will require a State Education Fund that will increase by the rate of inflation or growth in the economy – whichever is greater.

We need to ensure that additional revenue goes to education as voters intended. Having the State Education Fund as a separate account will prevent new funds from supplanting existing funds.

We also need to give districts the opportunity to build an ending fund balance to ensure their financial stability.

While this legislation will not solve all of our funding issues, we are hopeful that it will be the first step to illustrate the state’s long-term commitment to adequately funding education. Thank you for your time today, for your work on this legislation, and for your ongoing leadership.


Testimony provided by Superintendent Jesus F. Jara:

Sen. Woodhouse, Assemblywoman Carlton and members of the joint committee: My name is Dr. Jesus Jara, and I am the superintendent of the Clark County School District, where we work every day to be the number one choice for our kids.

I want to start by thanking you all for the opportunity to speak at this historic event. While I have served the students of the Clark County School District for just less than a year, it was clear to me from when I first considered applying for this position that the 52-year-old education funding formula is a hindrance to equity and achievement.

So thank you, especially to Sens. Woodhouse and Denis, along with many others, who have worked countless hours on this enormous task.

I appreciate that you have outlined an implementation plan to hold harmless districts that might lose funding for several years, as we join as a state to work out details. It’s safe to say that many in Clark County are eager for this implementation to start immediately, but we also want to ensure that this plan will work for all kids across the state.

I want to add that I am sympathetic to districts that do not have the benefit of an economy of scale and face their own unique challenges. However, I hear a clear consensus among many that Clark County should no longer continue to subsidize school districts that have lower class sizes and higher ending fund balances than we do. It doesn’t make sense for our kids.

The Trustees and I have a five-year strategic plan to increase student achievement, reduce equity gaps and strengthen operations. I encourage you to view Focus: 2024 at While we are excited about this plan, it’s difficult to guide major change knowing that we could be a few days away from bankruptcy, due to any major unforeseen expense.

If we want to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow, we need adequate, stable funding today. Here’s why we are supporting this legislation:

First, we know we need to build trust throughout our community. This bill offers transparency to the public. We welcome the provisions that require school districts to report more about their budgets and administrative costs. Also, we welcome a formula that is easier for the public to understand.

Second, the new formula ensures that new money intended for K-12 public education stays with K-12 public education. I have spoken with thousands of educators, parents and community members in my 11 months in this position, and I can tell you they are sick of increasing funds for education and continuing to see budget cuts. Today we can start to put an end to the terrible cycle of budget cuts that has lead to our state having some of the largest class sizes in the nation.

Let me share a few numbers with you about our student needs today versus 1967, when the previous funding formula was created.

In 1967, CCSD had 62,944 students. We now have 320,000.

In 1967, we didn’t track the number of English Language Learners we served. Today, we serve 55,565.

In 1967, we didn’t track the number of students on Free and Reduced Lunch. Today, students on FRL make up 63.84% of our student population.

The number of students receiving special education services also has increased exponentially, now serving 39,709 students.

Here’s what is truly transformative about this formula: It will provide funding based on the individual needs of students. It provides weighted funds for students who need more support. It also adjusts funding based on the needs of smaller school districts, small schools, and areas where the cost of living for school employees is higher, such as in Clark County. This will be a game changer in Nevada.

I’d like to address some concerns that I have heard.

First, that SB 543 does not increase the overall amount of education funding. This is true – for now. That is why we are working with the sponsors of AB309 and SB545 to provide “bridge” funding to get us through this biennium. Nevada needs to modernize our funding formula before making significant new investments in education. Make no mistake, this is the right first step to fixing decades of chronic underfunding of public education in Nevada.

Second, I hear concerns that programs we know are working — such as the Zoom schools — might not continue. I want to thank legislators for Section 78 of this bill, which provides flexibility with student weights so we can maintain the programs that are proving successful. And I want to assure those with concerns that I will continue the successful structured programs currently funded with categorical dollars.

I will mention that one of our concerns is the implementation of weights for special education students. We have special education students who cost $50,000 a year to educate and students who require extra supports that might cost a few hundred a year. The vast majority of services provided to our children with special needs are through centrally provided programs, personnel and services. Therefore, it’s difficult to send the weighted funding directly to the schools serving our students without a significant change in the model that we and many other districts use to deliver the actual services for these students. We look forward to resolving this concern.

Finally, I have heard concerns about the provisions to protect district ending fund balances and wall off some funding from collective bargaining. This also will help stabilize our budget. As the chief executive of this district, I can tell you that something needs to happen fast to stabilize our budget. We have cut more than $120 million over the past two years. I will say it again – we cannot run a district with less than a week in reserves.

Our students, employees and community have struggled for far too long under a funding formula that doesn’t serve our needs today.

This proposal lays the groundwork for us to work together as a state to transform education. As the superintendent who represents more than 70 percent of the students in our state — students who deserve our absolute best — once again I want to say thank you.

Graduation Schedule, Use #CCSDGOESTO

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Congratulations, Class of 2019! Clark County School District (CCSD) is promoting graduation on all social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) platforms.  We are proud of our students because graduation is a big milestone.

CCSD would like to know where seniors are going after graduation, whether it is college, military, or technical school. Use hashtag #CCSDGoesTo on social media to let us know your plans. Share a picture.

All CCSD high schools, parents, students and the whole community are encouraged to participate.

The CCSD Class of 2019 graduation ceremonies are from May 23 – 30, 2019. Click here for the full schedule.

Star Graduate 2019 – Mojave High School

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Mojave High School is proud to nominate Joshua McFarling-Kelly as its 2019 Star Graduate. While at Mojave, Josh has participated in many activities during his four years, including baseball, tennis, JROTC and drama.

Josh described his experience at Mojave this way, “Within the past four years of attending Mojave High School, I’ve accomplished many things, such as participating in multiple sports and after-school academic activities. My freshmen year began with the path of unexpected leadership. Till this day, I will honor it. From that point on, I’ve created a reputation at Mojave that I truly believe will last forever. Ms. Sarah Sheppeck and Mr. John Campbell (the theatre advisors my freshmen year) allowed me to express myself in ways that have never wavered, and allowed others to appreciate my true character. Before high school, if you asked me what I was doing in class, I honestly couldn’t even tell you. I’m not perfect–trust me. I flunked seventh grade. And when I was held back, I barely passed the second time. When I say that Mojave and its staff improved my life, it clearly shows. I’ve won several awards, from the Rattler Award to being nominated Class of 2019’s Most School Spirited Male. But the biggest thing I accomplished are the friendships. I’ve learned how to approach people and make them feel welcomed.”

After graduation, Josh plans to attend the College of Southern Nevada, and wants to be an actor, film director and screenwriter.

Congratulations to Josh McFarling-Kelly on being Mojave’s 2019 Star Graduate!

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NWCTA Student Ananya Sahiba Dewan Named U.S. Presidential Scholar

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Northwest Career & Technical Academy student Ananya Sahiba Dewan has been named a 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholar among 161 high school seniors in the nation.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, and leadership.

“On behalf of all Nevada educators, I would like to offer our congratulations and let these outstanding students know how proud we are of them,” said Jhone Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “It is wonderful that these students are being recognized nationally for their hard work.”

The 2019 ceremony will be held June 23, each honoree will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion.

For more information, click here.

Star Graduates 2019 – CSN High School South

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Melissa Martin Martinez was admitted to the competitive and rigorous College of Southern Nevada High School program, after having arrived in the United States three years earlier with refugee status. She joined the school’s Student Council right off the bat, and became a dedicated member.

During her junior year, she suffered and overcame serious ongoing health issues, going months without telling anyone at school what she was going through, worried that people would doubt her capability if they knew. She eventually learned to utilize her resources and to self-advocate, and she continues to prove herself as an enthusiastic and devoted student.

Melissa has an innate sweetness surrounding a core of strength. She wants to spend her life building structures to help struggling communities all over the world make their lives better.

She will be pursuing a degree in architecture at Woodbury University in the fall.

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Star Graduate 2019 – Boulder City High School

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Boulder City High School is proud to announce Taylor Cunningham as its Class of 2019 Star Graduate.

Never one to shy away from an academic opportunity or challenge, Taylor is a valedictorian candidate with a perfect 4.8 grade point average, an AP Scholar with Honor and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT.

Taylor has the keen ability to manage the pursuit of academia, while maintaining the capacity to relate to her peers. She is not just the head of her class, she’s a three-year varsity cheerleader serving as captain for the past two years, and a four-year varsity track athlete.

Further, Taylor is a member of National Honor Society, Aquila Chapter, where she has served as president this past year, a member of the BCHS Interact Club and a tireless volunteer with over 400 hours of community service.

Taylor will attend Pepperdine University next year, where she will major in biology with a pre-medical emphasis, and be a member of the Waves Cheer Squad.

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Star Graduate 2019 – Western High School

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In 2017, Jacob Ramirez-Morales experienced the natural disaster that changed his life forever, “Hurricane María.” After a month of struggle, he was fortunate enough to migrate from Puerto Rico in the pursuit of a better life.

Jacob had missed so many days of school in Puerto Rico; they summed up to 2 months. He planned to enroll into high school once the opportunity arose. Jacob had always dreamt of graduating in a high school in the U.S.; he stated, “Who knew it would have become a reality this way.”

During his first day at Western High School, Jacob felt welcomed by students and staff. His chemistry teacher, Mr. Macfarlane, truly believed in him. He was introduced into more rigorous and challenging classes by the staff. Jacob feels that thanks to the dedication of the staff, his senior year includes: Advanced Placement, Honors and dual enrollment classes at College of Southern Nevada’s HVAC program.

This long journey led Jacob to graduate with a College and Career Readiness Diploma, and he is proud to say that he will be graduating in white. His journey continues, as he has been accepted into the College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Not even a Hurricane can stop him from chasing his dreams!

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Clark HS Students Named Pete Conrad Scholars

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Students at Ed W. Clark High School were recognized as Pete Conrad Scholars, the top award in The Conrad Challenge, a multi-phase STEM and entrepreneurship competition inspired by the legacy of Apollo 12 astronaut Pete Conrad.

Michele Hernandez and her student team, VapeMate: Jaiden Reddy, Deven Reddy, Shivam Saran, Rishi Saran and Tanush Saranwere were named Pete Conrad Scholars in the Smoke-Free World: United States category at The Conrad Challenge Innovation Summit last week at Kennedy Space Center on April 23-26.

The student team created VapeMate, a mobile application that can track, quantify, substantiate, and prevent vaping through an attachment that fits right onto an e-cigarette and a mobile application that records, processes, and displays data on e-cigarette use for the user.

The VapeMate team received an all-expense paid trip to Catania, Italy to meet a Foundation for a Smoke-Free World grantee who is researching tobacco harm reduction.

For more information about the Challenge and Summit, click here.

Star Graduate 2019 – Laughlin

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Sometimes, people will grow up with hardships in their life, and it will shape them in an adverse way. Then you meet someone who develops, grows and matures because of their difficult situation. Haley Artinger is that person.

She has every reason to be mad at others, to blame “the system, the man, society” and all the other typical things people blame when they have struggles in life. Instead, she pushes through her day-to-day pains to improve; choosing not to let adversity define her, but rather use those struggles as a stairstep to find success.

To be around her is to be in awe of a sweet spirit, the desire to be the best and a compassion that is infectious. The maturity she displays makes her a stand-out leader, which is part of the reason she was chosen as the Vice President of Theatre and the Secretary of Choir.

Haley has a desire to stay in the fine arts field and has already been accepted to Southern Utah University with scholarships. Whether she chooses to attend the university or not, her future is bright and will be filled with success because she knows that one should not be afraid of a caterpillar, as it will become a beautiful butterfly.

It is with great honor that Laughlin Senior High School selects Miss Haley Artinger as its Star Graduate. Look out world, Haley is on her way!

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