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Nevada Democrats Push For Education Funding

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File photo of students in a classroom. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of students in a classroom. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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(Las Vegas, NV) — Democrats in the Nevada Legislature are touting an ambitious package of K-12 education priorities for the 2013 session that carries a price tag of at least $300 million.

At a news conference Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis of Las Vegas said many of the concepts are endorsed by Republicans and Gov. Brian Sandoval. But the battle will be over how to fund it all. Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Washoe, told KXNT that funding to the appropriate level will take heard work from everyone.

“We believe everyone should be at the table and we need to solve the problem in the state on how we fund it (education). Our colleagues across the aisle, the administration and our business community need to help us solve this problem. Everyone wins when we do.”

Smith added that over $1 billion has been cut in the past five years for public education in Nevada. And k-12 and higher education are intertwined when it comes to success for students.

“The better job we do in the K-12 benefits the higher education system because they have fewer kids in remediation and they are able to use their money more wisely. But, in addition to what we have cut in higher education they have had to raise their tuition and fees by about 60% to maintain what they have.”

Senate and Assembly education committees were scheduled to hold a joint hearing later in the day on a bill that would require full-day kindergarten statewide. That alone could cost $71 million.

Other bills to be heard this week targets class sizes, pre-kindergarten and English language learning programs.

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