MINUTES OF THE
SENATE COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES AND FACILITIES
April 21, 1993
The Senate Committee on Human Resources and Facilities was called to order by Chairman Raymond D. Rawson, at 2:00 p.m., on Wednesday, April 21, , 1993, in Room 226 of the Legislative Building, Carson City, Nevada. Exhibit A is the Meeting Agenda. Exhibit B is the Attendance Roster.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
Senator Raymond D. Rawson, Chairman
Senator Joseph M. Neal, Jr.
Senator Bob Coffin
Senator Diana M. Glomb
Senator Lori L. Brown
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT:
Senator William R. O'Donnell (Excused)
Senator Randolph J. Townsend
GUEST LEGISLATORS PRESENT:
Senator Ernest E. Adler, Capital Senatorial District
Senator Mark A. James, District No. 8, Clark County
STAFF MEMBERS PRESENT:
Pepper Sturm, Research Analyst
Susan Henson, Committee Secretary
Jim Boscacci, Chairman, Board, Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living
Clyde Carvey, Disabled Citizen
Fred Gaitan, Disabled Citizen
Paul Gowins, Disabled Citizen
Andy Laubert, Disabled Citizen
Lisa Martinez, Disabled Citizen
Lonnie James, Executive Director, United Cerebral Palsy of Nevada (UCP)
Mike Goodwin, Community Service Agency
Kevin Christensen, Director, Office of Protection and Advocacy
Lindsey Jydstrup, Lobbyist, Nevada State Education Association (NSEA)
Henry Etchemendy, Lobbyist, Nevada Association of School Boards
Sherry Loncar, Lobbyist, Nevada Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
Roger Means, Lobbyist, Washoe County School District
Leslie Porter, Washoe County School Board Trustee
Bonnie James, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce
Larry Osborne, Executive Vice President, Carson City Chamber of Commerce
June Gronert, Principal, Smithridge Elementary School, Washoe County School District
Maxine Nietz, Businessperson
Sandy Coil, Parent, Douglas County
Douglas Byington, Lobbyist, Nevada Association of School Administrators (NASA)
Kristine Jensen, Education Chairman, Nevada Coalition of Conservative Citizens (NCCC)
Betty Thoreson, Concerned Citizen
Janine Hansen, Lobbyist, Nevada Eagle Forum
Lucille Lusk, Lobbyist, Nevada Coalition of Conservative Citizens
Jeannie Simmons, Concerned Citizen
David Troescher, Volunteer Lobbyist, Nevada Association for Gifted and Talented
Chairman Rawson opened the hearing and sought committee approval to request a bill draft to require an endorsement in library science for teachers who provide instruction in library skills.
SENATOR GLOMB MOVED TO REQUEST A BILL DRAFT.
SENATOR BROWN SECONDED THE MOTION.
THE MOTION CARRIED. (SENATORS O'DONNELL, COFFIN AND TOWNSEND WERE ABSENT FOR THE VOTE.)
* * * * *
The chairman asked the committee for approval to request a bill draft to make it a felony to assault emergency response personnel when they are performing their duties.
SENATOR GLOMB MOVED TO REQUEST A BILL DRAFT.
SENATOR BROWN SECONDED THE MOTION.
Senator Glomb questioned who was requesting the bill draft. Chairman Rawson replied the request came from Dennis Nolan, Risk Management Director at Mercy Ambulance, Las Vegas.
THE MOTION CARRIED. (SENATORS O'DONNELL, COFFIN AND TOWNSEND WERE ABSENT FOR THE VOTE.)
* * * * *
Chairman Rawson presented BILL DRAFT REQUEST (BDR) 40-1478.
BDR 40-1478: Requires establishment of primary health care network for improving health status of mothers and children.
SENATOR GLOMB MOVED TO INTRODUCE BDR 40-1478.
SENATOR BROWN SECONDED THE MOTION.
THE MOTION CARRIED. (SENATORS O'DONNELL, COFFIN AND TOWNSEND WERE ABSENT FOR THE VOTE.)
* * * * *
Chairman Rawson opened the hearing on Senate Concurrent Resolution (S.C.R.) 17.
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 17: Supports personal assistance services for persons with disabilities.(BDR R-955)
Jim Boscacci, Chairman, Board, Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living, testified in support of S.C.R. 17, as referenced in his summary (Exhibit C), in hopes that a national program for Personal Assistance Services (PAS) for persons with disabilities would emerge.
Chairman Rawson questioned whether a Senate Concurrent Resolution, which offers direction to the legislators and to the state agencies, is the best approach for influencing Congress regarding this issue. Asking legislators to vote for programs without any knowledge about that program can bring forth some opposition. He asked Mr. Boscacci how strongly he felt about trying to deal with the national programs in this forum.
Mr. Boscacci pointed out there is a movement underway throughout the United States, with the passage of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and World Institute on Disability, to establish a national program.
Chairman Rawson drew attention to a resolution which came before the committee urging the state of Nevada to become a pilot project for President Clinton's health care plan, which suddenly became a political issue because people did not know anything about the plan. Chairman Rawson reiterated S.C.R. 17 is a just issue, but pointed out when people do not know what it is about, they tend to reserve their vote. The chairman felt the resolution would move through committee, but expressed concern about the unknown element, and advised Mr. Boscacci it could be handled any way he preferred.
Senator Glomb inquired if insurance covers personal assistants, and asked about the cost for a personal assistant. Mr. Boscacci replied that generally insurance does not cover personal assistants. However, there are three programs which provide personal assistants, Community Home-Based Initiatives Program (CHIP), the state subsidized attendant care program, and the Medicaid waiver program. He indicated there are state and federal insurance programs, but virtually nothing in the way of private insurance. If individuals are unable to get personal assistance, they are typically institutionalized. Mr. Boscacci noted the state program is limited by the funds available. Currently, there are 68 people on a waiting list for state subsidized attendant care. Attendant care costs an average of $11,786 per person annually, which includes administrative costs, and in comparison, nursing home care costs $23,046 per person annually. The Governor's budget for fiscal year 1994 is $669,000, which represents an increase, but an increase only in the sense that it made up for a funding deficit of approximately $150,000.
Senator Glomb asked if Mr. Boscacci knew the criteria for eligibility. Mr. Boscacci stated the recipient gets the amount of his income. He emphasized that attendant care for as little as 4 hours per day can keep an individual from being institutionalized.
Chairman Rawson pointed out federal funding through Medicaid provides 50 percent for nursing home care, and questioned if Medicaid pays 50 percent for attendant care.
Senator Brown asked if insurance carriers cover institutionalization? Mr. Boscarri replied, "Yes." Chairman Rawson cited a statistic that the disabled constitute 22 percent of people on the Medicaid budget and 65 percent of the dollars spent.
Clyde Carvey, Disabled Citizen, encouraged the legislators to support S.C.R. 17, which would help the plight of the disabled. He suggested it would be a savings to the state to redirect funds used for nursing home care to private home care, which increases the quality of life for the disabled.
Chairman Rawson stated there is talk of a national policy the states will administer, which would possibly provide a uniform benefit to everyone.
Mr. Carvey told the committee he wanted to move back to Montana, his native state, but the state has no PAS, other than through Medicaid, and he would be forced to pay one-half of his Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to the state for services. The program in Nevada has enabled him to acquire a bachelor's degree in social work and stay active within the community.
Fred Gaitan, Disabled Citizen, and sight impaired, introduced his attendant who read his prepared testimony. Mr. Gaitan encouraged support for programs such as PAS, Service to the Blind, and other such services which have enabled him to live a normal live. He implored the state of Nevada to designate more money to the programs.
Paul Gowins, Disabled Citizen, briefly outlined how personal care service had given him the opportunity to go to school, graduate, run for an assembly seat, and to become employed and stay employed. He encouraged the committee to look through the Nevada Times, a publication which outlines the services provided in Nevada, dedicated this month to personal services. Programs are being developed in the state through Medicaid, Medicaid waivers, and CHIPs, all which are trying to address attendant care in different ways. Mr. Gowins pointed out the importance of Nevada developing its own policy, which would send a message to the national level. He acknowledged Nevada's dilemma with the current financial crisis, but encouraged passage of S.C.R. 17.
Andy Laubert, Disabled Citizen, told the committee, without attendant care, he would be institutionalized. Last year he applied to increase his 2 hour per day attendant care to 4 hours, and was told there was a waiting list of 138 people on the PAS program, and an additional 130 on the Medicaid waiver program. He was told if he separated from his wife, he could go on the Medicaid waiver waiting list for attendant care, and they would provide funding for a nursing home at the cost of $2,900 per month while he waited. The state would be obligated to pay one-half of that figure. Mr. Laubert stressed the cost of the increased attendant care requested was $300 per month. He pointed out there is a higher incidence of pressure point sores, respiratory failure, infection, and clinical depression when an individual is institutionalized, and his sources indicate it can cost $30,000 to cure a pressure sore. Mr. Laubert commended the state for its acknowledgment that personal assistance services are needed. He remarked that private insurance pays virtually nothing for disabled care, and most disabled people rely solely on Medicaid or government programs.
Chairman Rawson asked Mr. Laubert if he would be taken off assistance if he worked.
Mr. Laubert explained the PAS program is based on income, and if married it is based on family income. Mr. Laubert briefly compared the attendant care services between Nevada and his home state of Pennsylvania, and although the Nevada program is not quite as good as his home state, it does have a plan. He stressed many states have no contingencies for taking care of their disabled through attendant services.
A discussion ensued between Mr. Laubert and Senator Glomb regarding whether those individuals who were on the waiting list are in nursing homes, or are receiving attendant care services. Mr. Laubert said the waiting list now has been scaled down, but pointed out many have no other alternative but to be institutionalized while waiting for a personal assistant. He emphasized attendant care covers essential living skills done on a daily basis, chores which cannot be handled in many cases by a family member. Mr. Laubert quoted a statistic that the disabled community has a 80 percent divorce rate after one spouse becomes disabled.
Chairman Rawson inquired if a personal assistant needs to be a nursing care assistant. Mr. Laubert said, "no," and explained it is a consumer-based program. The disabled person generally picks his or her own attendant, depending upon their particular needs. Training is available and the attendants are guided by the state program.
Senator Glomb requested staff to research and determine how many of those who are awaiting personal assistants are in nursing homes. She pointed out it may be cost effective to move money into this budget. Senator Brown also requested staff determine how long a person is on the waiting list.
Chairman Rawson directed staff to obtain a thorough breakdown of the number of disabled actually on the state list, and what type of services they are currently receiving.
Mr. Laubert thanked the committee and invited them into his home to see what the personal assistant does on a daily basis. He encouraged passage of S.C.R. 17.
Lisa Martinez, Disabled Citizen, testified she became disabled at the age of 4 years. Ms. Martinez emphasized she would not be before the committee if she did not receive personal care assistance. She strongly urged support for S.C.R. 17.
Lonnie James, Executive Director, United Cerebral Palsy of Nevada (UCP) testified in support of S.C.R. 17. UCP, both locally and nationally, advocates quality programs based in the community, in real life situations. In Nevada, UCP provides community-based programs which support employment, assisted technology and personal assistant services on a statewide basis. These programs are offered to all disabilities. S.C.R. 17 would help bring a quality of life to persons with disabilities in the state of Nevada and is a written testament of Nevada's commitment to provide quality services. It allows those most affected to have input and to participate in the process.
Mr. James addressed the question regarding the waiting list. He pointed out UCP had 100 people on their list, most of whom were also on the Medicaid waiver waiting list, creating duplication. UCP took those who were eligible for the Medicaid waiver waiting list off their list, which pared down the statewide number, and addresses the disparity in numbers.
Mr. James pointed out Medicaid uses a medical based model personal care assistant and UCP uses a social based model. Medicaid requires some services be performed by a registered nurse (RN), at $40 per hour. Under the social based model, personal care assistants can be trained to work with the disabled and provide all treatment, thus an RN is not needed, which keeps costs down.
Mike Goodwin, Community Service Agency, testified his business provides the personal care services in Reno and the outlying communities. Currently, they are servicing 33 individuals, with 36 on the waiting list. Mr. Goodwin emphasized the need for funding to assist disabled people to live a normal life, and urged passage of S.C.R. 17. He pointed out the Community Service Agency receives grants, which are coming to an end, and they will have to put in for a revised budget due to unexpected costs and additional assistant training.
Chairman Rawson pointed out to those present that the committee is not unsympathetic to the concerns expressed, however, there are 1,600 budgetary items which need to be funded. The committee is supportive of the resolution, and sensitive to the issues, but stressed the state is in a fiscal crisis.
Senator Glomb thanked those who testified today and reiterated that if this information is not in a public forum and the public is not informed, the needs will not be identified or properly addressed.
Senator Brown wished to be updated on Senator Glomb's suggestion of transferring money from institutions into the personal assistance program, which is more cost effective and humane.
Kevin Christensen, Director, Office of Protection and Advocacy, told a story of his grandfather, which emphasized the impact disabilities have on families. His grandfather was disabled, and due to his age, sustained 22 acute hospitalizations in 1 year, for a sum of $194,000. The family was able to secure a personal assistant for him, which enhanced the quality of his life for his last few months. Mr. Christensen pointed out personal assistants can be used for the mentally ill, those with developmental disabilities, or those who are disabled, to sustain them in community-based living, as those out in the community are more productive than those lying in a nursing home or hospital room. He encouraged the committee to pass S.C.R. 17.
Chairman Rawson entered written testimony in support of S.C.R. 17 from John W. Butterworth (Exhibit D).
Chairman Rawson closed the hearing on S.C.R. 17
SENATOR GLOMB MOVED TO ADOPT S.C.R. 17.
SENATOR NEAL SECONDED THE MOTION.
THE MOTION CARRIED. (SENATORS O'DONNELL AND TOWNSEND WERE ABSENT FOR THE VOTE.)
* * * * *
Chairman Rawson opened the hearing on Senate Bill (S.B.) 354.
SENATE BILL 354: Prohibits corporal punishment in public schools. (BDR 34-1572)
Senator Mark A. James, District No. 8, Clark County, sponsored and testified in support of S.B. 354. Senator James stated:
There is a Supreme Court opinion which deals with the Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment clause. The court in that case was asked to interpret the phrase that cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted in the criminal setting. The court used a phrase that I feel is very appropriate for our consideration of corporal punishment of children in schools. It said that the cruel and unusual punishment clause has to be interpreted by the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society. Nowhere is that better illustrated than in jurisprudence under that clause. When that clause was proposed as part of our constitution, the state of criminal justice and punishment philosophy was such that one of the members of the first constitutional congress stood up and said, "I have some concern about this cruel and unusual punishment clause because certainly you don't mean that cutting off the ears of thiefs or pillorying adulterers would be cruel or unusual," and the proponents of the measure said, "Oh, certainly not, that's not what we are getting at with this. We are talking about things that are truly cruel and unusual."
As society progressed, we have progressed in the area of criminal justice and punishment philosophy in the criminal area to a point where the infliction of physical pain as a means of punishment is no longer meted out. People nowadays would be shocked to see that we were to whip or pillory, or even just physically corporeally punish criminals. And yet in the area of discipline of our children, we still have in our society acceptance of corporeal punishment of these citizens. I did some research in proposing this bill to find out how the Nevada law has worked, which is actually a pretty good law if you want to allow corporal punishment, because it does discourage it and it does provide that it should be a last resort, and it does asks for regulations to be adopted, and it does provides for parental notification if such a punishment is administered, although it allows that to occur afterwards. I found out a number of school districts have either outlawed this type of punishment altogether, or they administer it very infrequently. Interestingly enough, the two largest school districts in the state, Clark County allows it and Washoe County has adopted regulations which prohibit corporal punishment in schools. I was not able to get statistics, in Clark County or the other counties, on the number of instances of corporal punishment that have been administered. Apparently, there is a record keeping done, but no consolidation of these records to know exactly how many times this type of punishment is used. There was some description of, and I am willing to submit these to the committee, the way in which corporal punishment is administered. One principal stated that when it is necessary to discipline a child, he uses a leather shoe sole shaped paddle approximately the size of 18 inches or larger. At the time of the discipline, a witness is present, and the child is informed he/she will receive three hard swats on the rear end. The principal indicated this is not used frequently, but this is the method when used.
Moving beyond the empirical data on how much this is used in the schools now to the real purpose of the bill, that is twofold. First of all, with these evolving standards of decency that I am urging the committee to consider, strongly, I think we have progressed to a stage in our society where our school system can set an example by saying on a statewide basis, making a statement, that inflicting physical pain on children is, in the school system, at least, not an appropriate form of discipline, and other means of discipline need to be the ones we emphasize and use solely. I think that is appropriate given the state of the country, child abuse is at epic proportions. I don't suggest that corporal punishment is always child abuse, but it is inflicting physical pain on children. There are many instances where a parent, or someone else administering corporal punishment, can cross the line between that which is acceptable, infliction of physical pain on a child, and something which becomes child abuse. A good example is the teacher here recently, and I know this person was beyond the bounds of anything permissible, was taping children's faces with duct tape and taping them to the desk for being unruly. Perhaps this person was out-of-line, or not well adjusted enough to be a teacher, in any event, that line was crossed between what is appropriate for punishment and discipline and what is child abuse. What I am asking with this bill, is for Nevada to take the step of saying that children are our most valuable resource, our most treasured gifts that we have in this life, and we must deal with them as prudently, gently and nonphysically as we possibly can. I would like to see our school systems take that step.
Senator Coffin noted he was not able to find a definition of corporal punishment in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS). Senator James agreed there is nothing in the statute.
Chairman Rawson declared the word corporal itself means, "as of, or pertaining to the body." Senator James stated it is more or less understood in the law as infliction of some sort of pain to the body. A discussion ensued between Senator Coffin and Senator James as to the interpretation of the words punishment and pain.
Senator Coffin questioned what Nevada should be calling corporal punishment within the state, and then allowing the school districts to decide whether or not to allow that defined corporal punishment. The senator pointed out he found an attorney general opinion wherein jurisdiction over the children passes from parents to school authorities during school hours. The senator questioned the reason for change now.
Senator James stressed it is one thing to say corporal punishment is legally permissible in the school, and another thing to say whether it is appropriate. The attorney general does not sit in the status of policy, but rather interprets the law. Senator James stated in law school he encountered a 1970s case where a child challenged corporal punishment as being unconstitutional. The courts have consistently said this is a matter for the state legislators to resolve, that corporal punishment is not cruel and unusual punishment, and if it crosses the line and becomes criminal, then it is dealt with criminally in the child abuse area. The status of the law allows schools to administer corporal punishment without infringing on someone's constitutional rights, or in any way invade the provence of parents, because jurisdiction does transfer from the parent to the school, and the schools have to administer discipline.
Senator James stated he feels a lot has changed and our society is progressing. Punishments meted out to children years ago were much more severe, and there were no limiting statutes. In the history of this country, children were treated as commodities. Children are now looked upon as miniature adults. Senator James emphasized it is appropriate, at this stage in our history, to question whether infliction of physical pain on an essentially defenseless human being is appropriate. The senator pointed out that virtually none of the school districts use corporal punishment at the high school level, so the issue deals with use of corporal punishment at the elementary school level.
Senator Coffin asked if spanking is defined as corporal punishment in the school districts. Senator James replied that punishment is not allowed above the head, a child cannot be hit in the face.
Senator Glomb asked if the new language speaks to public schools, and if so, wondered if the state regulates private schools and why this was not addressed in the bill. Senator James noted it was his intent to amend the statute dealing with public schools only.
Senator Brown noted that subsection 2 of the bill specifically excludes when a teacher is using self-defense, and questioned if the language should be more specific. Teachers have been called to break up a fight and then were sued for touching a student. Senator James said he did not have a problem changing the language to address that issue, but did not feel defining corporal punishment would do that.
Senator Neal pointed out the old bill makes it optional for the school districts to adopt corporal punishment and questioned why the law should be changed. It was his impression that Senator James finds corporal punishment indecent. The senator asked how many districts are utilizing this system. Senator James indicated Carson City and Washoe School Districts prohibit corporal punishment, and the other districts, who were contacted, allow it. He indicated there seems to be a consensus in the education community that corporal punishment is not something they desire to hold on to as an effective means of discipline. Senator James then read a resolution from the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) on corporal punishment.
WHEREAS, corporal punishment is defined as the inflicting of pain on a student in the name of discipline; and
WHEREAS, it is assumed that teachers use corporal punishment only as a last resort, but studies have indicated that it is the first response to minor and nonviolent misbehavior, such as whispering; and
WHEREAS, proponents reserve the right to use corporal punishment as protection, but self-defense is not considered corporal punishment; and
WHEREAS, National PTA believes that corporal punishment has no place in schools, and has stipulated so in the 1978 resolution opposing corporal punishment with reaffirmation by the National Convention Delegates in 1985; and
WHEREAS, Nevada does not have legislation prohibiting the use of corporal punishment; and
WHEREAS, pursuing the elimination of corporal punishment in Nevada causes no fiscal impact; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Nevada PTA supports legislation prohibiting corporal punishment in the state of Nevada in the 1993 Legislature for the welfare and care of children.
Senator James stressed this bill is a value judgment. He is not saying it is indecent, but rather the old standards no longer meet those evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.
Senator Neal remarked that when capital punishment is administered, the recipient does not easily forget the reason why it was administered.
Lindsey Jydstrup, Lobbyist, Nevada State Education Association (NSEA), read testimony from Rick Millsap, president of Nevada State Education Association (Exhibit E).
Henry Etchemendy, Lobbyist, Nevada Association of School Boards, spoke neither in favor or against the bill. In response to the testimony and questions raised, Mr. Etchemendy presented a report from the National Association of School Psychologists drafted in April 1986 (Exhibit F). He shared their definition, "Corporal punishment is defined as the intentional infliction of physical pain, physical restraint, and/or discomfort upon a student as a disciplinary technique. Corporal punishment does not include use of reasonable and necessary physical force: (a) to quell a disturbance that threatens physical injury to any person or destruction of property; (b) to obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous objects within a pupil's control; and (c) for the purpose of self-defense or the defense of others."
Mr. Etchemendy pointed out this is not a definition in Nevada, as a definition does not appear in the statutes. He directed the committee to the statistics on page 11 (Exhibit F) which show the incidence of corporal punishment by states during 1982, based on the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the United States Department of Education, listing Nevada at 2.19 percent. Chairman Rawson stated from the statistics, it does not appear to be epidemic in Nevada.
Sherry Loncar, Lobbyist, Nevada Parent Teacher Association (PTA), testified that since 1985 National PTA has opposed corporal punishment and encouraged school districts to develop disciplinary procedures that will result in positive student behavior and an orderly climate for learning. In 1988 another recommendation was set out and issued to abolish corporal punishment. Nevada PTA wholeheartedly stands behind S.B. 354. The school districts should be a form of role modeling for parents. Ms. Loncar emphasized with parental child abuse running rampant, anything the schools can do to send a positive message to parents would be beneficial.
Roger Means, Lobbyist, Washoe County School District, reasserted that Washoe County School District has regulations on its books prohibiting corporal punishment in their schools. He wished to clarify that the famous duct tape incident was not condoned punishment by Washoe County School District, and that employee was terminated.
Chairman Rawson closed the hearing on S.B. 354.
Chairman Rawson opened the hearing on S.B. 91, taking it out of subcommittee for a rehearing.
SENATE BILL 91: Allows school-based decision making in public schools. (BDR 34-259)
Senator Ernie Adler, Capital Senatorial District, indicated that Senator Townsend, cosponsor of the bill, could not be available but strongly urged support of the bill. Chairman Rawson declared he would give Senator Townsend the opportunity to put his thoughts into the record.
Senator Adler explained he had been working on this bill with a number of people since the last hearing, business leaders, chamber of commerce, parents, Nevada State Teacher's Association, representatives of classified groups of employees, and administrators and the proposed amendment (Exhibit G) represents a compromise from those individuals.
Senator Adler reviewed the changes with the committee. Section 2 of the proposed amendment (Exhibit G) has become the only way to initiate site-based decision making, which means it is initiated by a two-thirds vote of the teachers within the school district. All the other mandatory provisions mandating that school districts have a school-based plan have been removed, and this is the only means by which a school can opt for school-based decision making. The senator explained section 2 is the only triggering measure left.
Section 3 (Exhibit G), one of the more important segments of the bill, prescribes rules by which the school district structures their school-based decision making process. Each school district will promulgate rules for, (1) the creation of school counciling and election of its members, (2) interaction of parents and members of the community with the school council, (3) requirements for record keeping by the school council, (4) procedures for appealing a decision of the school council to the board, which can be appealed, (5) procedures for a school to obtain a waiver of the rules (but should say policies) of the school district, (6) a method for the determination of the progress of a pupil, (7) a method for reporting progress of a pupil to that pupil, his parents or guardians, the board of the trustees and the state board, (8) plans for improvement of schools within the school districts, and (9) method for the allocation of money to schools that have adopted a program of school-based decision making and for the administration of the budget of the school district.
Senator Adler stressed subsections 6, 7 and 8 as shown above (Exhibit G) are extremely important, as they represent accountability measures. This is the only place in Nevada law where school-based decision making schools have to report back and show meaningful progress to the board of trustees, indicating the changes in curriculum, or whatever school improvements have been made, and whether they are actually working.
Chairman Rawson emphasized this represents a significant policy change, which may make it difficult to compare the schools, as there will be no standardization. Senator Adler stated the schools have to show a significant improvement in the plan, and the school districts would have to develop a standardization, which would not necessarily be consistent from district to district.
Senator Adler explained the council would consist of three parents, three teachers, one principal, and now one classified school employee. This was requested by the classified employees in many districts, as they constitute as much as 50 percent of the employee base, and wanted input into the operational aspects of the school. The teacher is selected by a vote of the teachers, and a parent who is a member of the PTA, or similar association, can be elected by that organization, and the principal is the chairman of the board. The principal sets up the frequency of the meetings, the agenda, etc.
Senator Adler pointed our there have been significant changes to section 5 (Exhibit G). The school council may appoint teachers, support staff and members of the community to various committees of the school council. Each committee may submit recommendations for consideration to the school council. Each committee shall elect a chairman who shall service for a 1 year term, determine the frequency, and set the agenda for the meetings. This allows people from the business community, teachers and support staff to meet and work on the individual problems the school may have, and report back to the school council. Ideally, this would allow more community input into the school.
Senator Adler recommended elimination of section 6(1) (Exhibit G), as it is unnecessary. Therefore section 6(2) becomes 6(1), which says school councils may recommend the teachers, principal, and other necessary employees to be employed by the board of trustees to fill any vacancies that occur at the school, after the school council is created. In the previous bill draft, they had actually served to hire those types of people, but now are merely recommending to the board who will be hired.
Due to time constraints, Chairman Rawson interrupted and allowed Leslie Porter the opportunity to testify.
Leslie Porter, Washoe County School Board Trustee, indicated that although a trustee, she was before the committee representing her constituency, as this issue had not been discussed at a board meeting. When running for the school board, the complaint she heard most from parents and community leaders was a concern for involvement in the operation of schools at the site. In her opinion the philosophy of site-based management is a good one. She encouraged the committee to take into consideration suggestions made in subsequent testimony to streamline some of the descriptions, and to pay attention to the parental involvement issue, as well as community involvement. Ms. Porter stated she would hesitate to endorse something that represents parental involvement as mere tokenism, by stacking the power to nullify parent's input and decision making strength.
Ms. Porter emphasized that having worked on many committees with community and business leaders, she is aware how important and helpful their contributions can be, and encouraged consideration for inclusion in the site-based council, not just as adjunct committee members, but as actual buddy members of the site-based council. Rather than restrict council membership to those who are parents, perhaps include an option of half district employees and half non-district individuals. She recognized the possible resistance from district employees and administrators to involve the public to any great extent in the decision making process. Ms. Porter urged forward movement of this issue in the state of Nevada, and stressed the efforts made here should address the concerns and situations for Nevada.
Senator Neal asked Ms. Porter how the state would insure a minority representation on the council. Senator Adler stated the parents on the site-based boards allowed to vote at the hearings or committee meetings must have a child in the school. Thus, if a school was in a minority neighborhood, those parents would be on the council. Senator Adler pointed out the bill says PTA or equivalent organization, and as many schools do not have a PTA, the parents would have to assemble and vote. This is a mechanism to get more minority parents involved because they can run for the council in a small local school area versus running county wide.
Ms. Porter said the key figure is the administrator. In some districts, it is a concern and would have to be addressed. It possibly could be included as a philosophical statement as to what is appropriate and what is expected.
Senator Adler wished to point out that the three voting parent members idea was taken from the Kentucky bill, which has the largest number of parental involvement units in any legislation nationwide.
Senator Adler moved on to section 7 (Exhibit G), which lays out what the school council can decide upon. The important change is that these are subject to any existing contract. The original draft violated contractual rights of various people in the school community. The senator highlighted points in section 7. The school council is allowed, (1) to decide on curriculum and courses of study for the pupils, (2) assignment of the hours of employment of teachers and other employees of the school, (3) assignment of pupils to classes and programs, (4) to schedule hours the school will be open, subject to state law, (5) use of classrooms and other property, (6) practices of instruction to be used by teachers, (7) discipline of pupils, and (8) extracurricular programs to be offered by the school and the qualifications for participation by pupils in such programs. This is a permissive type of program and the council does not have to decide on all the programs, for instance, they could do a math improvement curriculum, yet do a standard curriculum in english. The council should have specific goals for school improvement and work toward those goals.
Section 8 (Exhibit G), except as otherwise provided in section 9, allows the school council to select textbooks, instructional materials, equipment and supplies for use by the school, within their budget.
Senator Neal wondered if this would create a situation where students in one school would be receiving a different type of education than students in another school. Senator Adler replied that is the intention behind the bill, with the idea they would be receiving a better education.
Chairman Rawson pointed out the state is charged with seeing there is equal opportunity for everybody. Senator Adler responded that equal does not mean lowest common denominator. The schools are performance based, and they will have to show to the school board they are doing better than the normal school.
Senator Neal felt there would have to be a common test to properly evaluate the students. He questioned if site-based would eliminate the theory of public education. Senator Adler stressed everybody has a right to a quality public education, which site-based decision making would provide.
Senator Neal questioned selection of textbooks and wondered if this would cause a problem with the various school districts in terms of competing for resources. Senator Adler emphasized the site-based schools would not be receiving additional money. He pointed out many schoolrooms throughout Nevada currently are not teaching out of the textbooks, but are using instructional materials. This bill merely authorizes many of the schools to do what they are already doing.
Senator Adler moved on to section 10 (Exhibit G), which says if the school council develops an excellent site-based decision making plan in math, for instance, it can be submitted to the school board and then to the state department of education for analysis and certification. This plan can then be passed on and adopted by other schools in Nevada, which would hopefully bring all the schools up to a higher level of achievement.
Section 11 (Exhibit G) prohibits intentional interference with a program, but noted the only sanction is a letter of reprimand.
A discussion ensued between Senator Glomb, Chairman Rawson and Senator Adler regarding section 10 of the proposed amendment.
Senator Adler pointed out section 12 of the proposed amendment (Exhibit G) deletes sex education and goes with standard state law and curriculum. School councils have indicated they do not want to be involved in debates on sex education.
Lindsey Jydstrup, Lobbyist, Nevada State Education Association (NSEA), read testimony from Rick Millsap, President, NSEA, (Exhibit H), which stated that S.B. 91, with Senator Adler's amendment, and one additional amendment, is a good workable model for site-based decision making. Ms. Jydstrup pointed out when NSEA originally testified on S.B. 91, they expressed concern that, as written, the bill could supersede the contractual agreements negotiated in each county. The language submitted by Senator Adler today addresses those concerns with one exception. NSEA is proposing to amend section 3 of Senator Adler's amendment (Exhibit G) and presented their requested change (Exhibit H). NSEA believes involvement on the front end by the employee groups, which are essential to making site-based decision making a success, is critical. NRS 288 gives teachers and support staff the statutory right to collectively bargain a number of working conditions, and NSEA believes it is critical that site-based decision making models be developed within the confines of these negotiated agreements. NSEA believes potential problems can be avoided if association representatives are involved in establishing the rules and procedures that schools must follow. She urged adoption of this amendment.
Bonnie James, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, spoke in support of the concept of site-based management. It is time to take a look at providing better education in the schools. S.B. 91 is a good step forward.
Larry Osborne, Executive Vice President, Carson City Chamber of Commerce, testified they have worked with Senator Adler on the amendments presented, and fully support S.B. 91, as it is time for comprehensive reform of the educational system.
Roger Means, Lobbyist, Washoe County School District, indicated philosophically they support site-based decision making. For the past 2 years there has been a broad-based committee in Washoe County School District investigating site-based decision making which might be applied in the Washoe County School District. This committee is chaired by June Gronert. A draft regulation on site-based decision making will be presented to the school board at their next meeting, and the board should take final action on that in May. Mr. Means then introduced June Gronert.
June Gronert, Principal, Smithridge Elementary School, Washoe County School District, testified regarding her research in the area of site-based decision making the past 2-1/2 years, and recognized Senator Adler's efforts in this regard. Ms. Gronert stated her site-based management committee adopted and prefers the term, shared-decision making process committee. She stressed that many of the structures introduced in the bill complement the site-based decision making processes currently in practice.
Ms. Gronert pointed out she is in the process of implementing a shared-decision making model within her own school. Her committee had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Carl Glickman, noted as the head of the professional league of schools, a shared-decision making model established in Georgia under the league of schools. During that visit, the committee had the opportunity to visit and meet with the league of schools, and participate in a forum for developing the process within a school.
Ms. Gronert shared with the committee the postures taken by the League of Schools of Georgia. She remarked that the shared-decision making process is not new, it simply places the democratic process into the schools, and provides a forum for all people affected by that decision to be part of the decision making. The council is not a definitive deciding body, but allows everyone affected by decisions to have an opportunity to be in the forum.
Ms. Gronert pointed out the League of Schools of Georgia do not have a legislative mandate. It is Dr. Glickman's opinion that when you mandate a democratic process, you defeat the process, and there should be an open invitation for all schools to be part of that restructuring. The function of restructuring is to make a positive impact on the quality of education for the students.
Ms. Gronert asked the committee to move in the direction of allowing the schools to have a forum for the shared governance processes within the individual schools, but emphasized that it should not be mandated and constrained with so many prescriptions the individual schools lose the ability to access their needs and take creative and innovative action to make that positive impact.
Senator Brown asked Ms. Gronert for further clarification as to her position. Ms. Gronert replied that the issue of shared governance structure is complex, and would require a lengthy explanation. She asserted when you define every component of the core council, down to the exact number of members, and how they function on what issues, you have set strict parameters, and have developed a constrained model. Ms. Gronert remarked that no two schools in the League of Schools in Georgia function under their council models in exactly the same way.
Senator Coffin questioned where Washoe County stands on S.B. 91. Mr. Means maintained they support Senator Adler and his work, and philosophically support site-based management. However, there are concerns about the prescriptive nature of the council make-up and some of the functions prescribed in the bill that dictate what the council may or may not do, or must do. When Senator Coffin requested further explanation, Mr. Means recognized the time constraints and agreed he and Ms. Gronert would be available for comments to the committee at a later date.
Maxine Nietz, Businessperson, testified that american business has found the old hierarchical top down methods of the last century no longer work and american education is finding today's challenges call for new ways of managing each school. Teachers, principals and parents must be free to work together to make each school an independent learning center that works for that school, its staff, and its students. In the near future, the federal government is considering bills on school choice and Nevada schools must be ready when that happens to meet the challenge of competition. The schools must have flexibility and local control in order to compete successfully. In this new world of global competition, schools must have what businesses have, the ability to have the hands-on experts, the teachers and principals, along with parents, make the decisions that ultimately will affect all of our lives. Ms. Nietz urged support of S.B. 91.
Sandy Coil, Parent, Douglas County, testified she attended the last state school board meeting at which time the members voted to set up a subcommittee to study current graduation requirements. This study was prompted by the fact that the current high school curriculum is set up for college bound students, and only 20 percent of high school graduates go on to college. Eighty percent of the high school students are not being served. Ms. Coil suggested S.B. 91 could address some of those problems. She pointed out the concepts in S.B. 91 are not new as California, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Texas, W. Virginia, Illinois, Washington and Tennessee have recently begun encouraging districts to adopt decentralized approaches.
Douglas Byington, Lobbyist, Nevada Association of School Administrators (NASA), read his testimony and proposed amendments (Exhibit I), stating NASA would be in favor of S.B. 91 if it incorporated NASA's amendments. Mr. Byington discussed involvement of parents, and the problem of equity within the districts.
Henry Etchemendy, Lobbyist, Nevada Association of School Boards, testified he would support site-based decision making if left in the realm of the local school boards' authority (Exhibit J. Original is on file in the Research Library.)
Chairman Rawson noted with the loss of a quorum, the committee hearing has become a subcommittee hearing.
Kristine Jensen, Education Chairman, Nevada Coalition of Conservative Citizens (NCCC), read her testimony and proposed amendments (Exhibit K). She emphasized NCCC would consider support of S.B. 91, if their proposed amendments were adopted.
Betty Thoreson, Concerned Citizen, spoke in opposition to S.B. 91, testifying she has concerns about site-based management schools.
She suggested instead of S.B. 91 becoming law, the committee consider a resolution of support to the State Board of Education and to the local school boards to implement pilot programs of this sort, which give flexibility, rather than the rigidity of law.
Janine Hansen, Lobbyist, Nevada Eagle Forum, pointed out little has been heard about accountability. Individuals have testified that programs have been implemented in other states, yet there are no statistics or information to show whether the programs are making a difference in academic achievement. Nevada needs to see if schools have been successful in implementing the site-based management programs, and whether the programs have achieved the desired results.
Ms. Hansen spoke in support of Mr. Byington's amendment which would include a majority of parents in the decision making process. Ms. Hansen stated she continually hears the cry for more parental involvement, and this bill does not support that theory.
Ms. Hansen felt it essential to have some evidence showing site-based management improves education, parental input and involvement. In her opinion, S.B. 91 eliminates parental involvement. She encouraged the committee to take a strong look at S.B. 91 which disenfranchises parents. More research should be done to see if other states have shown improved academic achievement.
Lucille Lusk, Lobbyist, Nevada Coalition of Conservative Citizens (NCCC), spoke in opposition to S.B. 91. Philosophically, the concept of school-based decision making is a good idea, however, NCCC disagrees with the format before the committee. Ms. Lusk referred to and spoke in support of twelve amendments previously submitted by Kristine Jensen of NCCC, which would resolve their concerns.
Ms. Lusk responded to Senator Adler's comment that site-based schools would have to show the school board they are doing better than the other schools, yet there is nothing in the bill which requires that kind of accountability. She referred to section 10 (Exhibit G) and the discussion about preparing a model program, and what that meant. In her opinion, the wording of section 10 has nothing to do with preparing a special math program or a curriculum item, but rather it was written specifically to address the question of the structure of the site-based program, the school council, etc., and thus does not offer what was suggested, although it may have intended to do so.
Ms. Lusk referred to an earlier speaker who commented this bill would be placing the democratic process in the schools, with which she disagrees. Most of the rules of the local school board, many of the rules of the state board of education, including the basic course of study, curriculum requirements, etc. have been waived for the school council, and even some of the 26 different state laws. Under S.B. 91, the school council essentially replaces the local school board, the state board, and the state legislature in the process, and yet it is not a body elected by the citizens who live in that district.
In Ms. Lusk's opinion, the bill as written, takes the democratic process out of the schools and eliminates involvement of citizens, rather than increases it. A school based decision making process ought to be a good thing, but it cannot be if it excludes citizens, parents, etc. and consolidates power in the hands of a few school employees.
A discussion ensued between Chairman Rawson and Ms. Lusk regarding the councils, which could create many more school boards in the state over individual schools, and the fact that they are not bound by state law because of the exemptions. He wondered how she felt about the idea of creating a new school council for a particular zone of high schools and feeder schools.
Ms. Lusk pointed out NCCC's proposed amendment (Exhibit K) which says, "Consider setting up a school council that covers a high school and all its feeder schools, rather than each individual school." Ms. Lusk voiced her concern that Senator Adler's plan could create inconsistency in a child's education, if each school had no continuity from one level to the next. NCCC would also be supportive of a concept of dividing up the large school districts, not necessarily on the basis of a high school and its feeder schools.
Chairman Rawson questioned if NCCC is in favor of site-based management, with the exceptions noted, and asked if they had concerns in turning this over to the parents. Ms. Lusk pointed out if the school council was elected by the citizenry over a high school and its feeder schools, it would not necessarily be solely parents, as it could be business people in the community, and perhaps even teachers. Ms. Lusk stressed she did not believe there should be an employment criteria for membership, whether that be a school teacher, a parent, or a businessperson. The citizenry should decide who they wish to represent them. In her opinion, an elected body perpetuates the partnership between citizen input and the professional staff, which have a great deal of power and authority in the schools from day to day. That is the strength of the representative government system, as it sets rules, rather than making individual decisions.
Ms. Lusk stated she did see a problem in the original bill which allowed the school council to decide which classes pupils attend. If it sets rules, then it is a policy making body and that's the proper partnership.
Senator Coffin wondered if it would be possible for an elected school trustee to set up a pilot project within all the schools in his district, from lower grades through high school, which would then become a school district, and be accountable to the voters of that district. Ms. Lusk interjected that would be inappropriate,
as it ought to be a full body of elected officials, rather than just one. Senator Coffin expressed his belief in accountability yet, on the other hand, experimentation.
Senator Alder pointed out these ideas might work, but then it is no longer school-based decision making. The basic fundamentals of school-based decision making is parental involvement, parents who have children in the school, sitting on a board, as well as the teachers and principal having decision making power within the management structure.
Ms. Lusk stated the proposition that a board be made up of parents at the school is a possible format, but the majority ought to be parents.
Jeannie Simmons, Concerned Citizen, urged support of S.B. 91 and showed a video Saving America's Children (Exhibit L. Original is on file in the Research Library.), which spoke to parental support and involvement in the decision making process for students. Parents must be encouraged to get involved and in her opinion, S.B. 91 has that ability. Ms. Simmons stated as a parent she wants to be involved and help make decisions, and wants teachers to be able to make decisions to try new programs because what we are doing is not working.
David Troescher, Volunteer Lobbyist, Nevada Association for Gifted and Talented, although today appearing as a concerned parent, spoke in favor of S.B. 91. Mr. Troescher noted he had some concerns about the bill, but nonetheless voiced his support.
He expressed concern about the cost of textbooks, as schools would no longer be able to order in bulk, but pointed to the reality that districts are currently using different materials and textbooks. He addressed the transient problem, going from one district to another district, and pointed out this does not operate the way it was originally envisioned. For years, the state has been trying to get uniformity throughout the districts in accounting systems, curriculum, etc. without a lot of success. Studies have attempted to compare budgets, but to date have not found any valid comparisons.
Mr. Troescher said site-based management would create shared responsibility, councils sharing the responsibility with school boards. Certain functions are performed better at the school board level than the site-based level and site-based decision making does not mean the council cannot turn to the district for help to resolve problems.
Mr. Troescher pointed out whether this bill passes or not, there is going to be site-based decision making. This bill allows schools to take some of the matters into their own hands to effect changes to facilitate site-based management. He emphasized the schools are not going to toss out U.S. History, Nevada History, etc. Site-based management allows schools to pick the programs that have been proven. Mr. Troescher urged passage of S.B. 91 as a step in the right direction.
Chairman Rawson closed the hearing on S.B. 91, remarking that this is a complex issue. This bill will be taken to subcommittee, with Senator Adler and other interested parties. The chairman remarked he has made a list of the concerns and the subcommittee will go through those systematically and report back to the committee as soon as possible.
There being no further business, Chairman Rawson adjourned the hearing at 5:40 p.m.
Senator Raymond D. Rawson, Chairman
Senate Committee on Human Resources and Facilities
April 21, 1993