Dead school bill draws mixed reaction |

Dead school bill draws mixed reaction

Mary Thompson

Nevada residents in Tahoe who want to create a community school board to operate under the direction of the existing Douglas County School District won’t get their chance this year.

Assembly Bill 413, which would have allowed citizens to vote on and organize community school boards, was shot down Thursday by Nevada’s Education Committee.

The vote was separated by party, with four Republican committee members voting for the bill and the eight Democrat majority against it.

Also against the bill was the Douglas County School District in a unanimous vote of 7-0.

“We feel there is not a need for a community board because the existing board is very responsive and accessible,” said Douglas County School District Superintendent Pendery Clark. “It would just create an additional layer of bureaucracy.”

But Michael Jabara, a Nevada resident and parent of two children in middle school, disagrees.

“Looking to the next five to 10 years, when the valley grows to 60,000 people and the (population) at the lake stays the same, who will represent us?” asked Jabara at a Tahoe Citizens Committee meeting held at the Lakeside Inn and Casino Thursday.

“It’s a way for Tahoe residents to have a voice, an official government body that would have responsibility,” he said.

But George Echan, a Tahoe representative on the Douglas County School District board, said Tahoe residents already have a strong voice.

Of the seven members on the school board, two represent Lake Tahoe schools which account for 25 percent of the schools in the district. Also, half of the school board meetings are held at the lake.

“Two votes from the lake are very powerful,” he said.

Jabara said the role of the community board as described in AB 413 would be to set goals and standards within the teaching system. It would not allow direct control over teachers and principals.

Some see this as a weak position.

“It’s a bad bill because it has no teeth,” Echan said. “If you want a bill, make a bill that works.”

But Jabara said that the people should decide whether or not there is a need for the bill.

“The people should make the decision whether a community school board is needed, not the lawmakers or the (existing) school administration,” he said. “The rigidity of the state government system doesn’t speak well of our ability to respond to the needs of the 21st century.”

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