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KUNR Today: WCSD keeps current bell schedule, Regional employment still lagging pre-pandemic levels

An image of the Washoe County School District Administration Building
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Monday, Nov. 29, 2021.

Rural Nevada residents file lawsuit against new district map
By The Associated Press

Residents of a rural, Republican-leaning town that the Nevada Legislature split into two Assembly districts filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s district maps. They argue that the maps signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak earlier this month are drawn in a way that denies voters their right to elect representatives of their choice. The lawsuit was filed November 17 and argues the way the town of Pahrump in Nye County is split into two state Assembly districts dilutes residents' voting power. It is the first to challenge the redistricting maps passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed by the governor.

WCSD board votes to not push back bell schedule
By Lucia Starbuck

Students in the Washoe County school district will be starting their day at the same time next year. The board reversedits preliminary decisionto push the bell schedule back by 30 minutes for K-12 students. They changed their minds after hearing about the potential impacts to before and after school activities.

Area 1 superintendent Ann Marie Dickson presented some of the concerns for elementary school students, who would’ve gone to class from 10 to 4.

“Due to family work schedules, some students may need to arrive at school well before school starts, so that could be two-and-a-half to three hours prior to the start of the school day,” Dickson said.

For middle and high school students, researchshows it’s beneficial for their sleep to start later, but concerns were raised that would put student athletes in rush hour traffic after games. The board says it will revisit a bell change after doing more research.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Report: Mountain West employment lagging pre-pandemic levels
By Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows employment in our region is still lagging behind pre-pandemic levels, but it’s not all bad news. Employment in the U.S. for the last fiscal year was almost four percentage points lower than what it had been before COVID arrived. That’s a big improvement, but that recovery isn’t playing out equally among the states.

In Nevada, employment rates are 10% lower than what they had been. That’s because the state relies on tourism, which was hit hard by the pandemic. Colorado and New Mexico are doing better, but both still have significant gaps in the labor market. But in Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, the difference in employment now versus two years ago wasn’t big enough to be statistically significant.

Range of transportation projects expected to get US funding
By The Associated Press

Officials say Nevada’s share of new funding provided by the recently approved federal infrastructure legislation likely will help pay for a range of projects, including expansions of the freeway system, transit improvements and new technology to connect mobility systems. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the state will receive $83.5 million in the current fiscal year, an increase of 21%, and the additional funding will total $520.7 million by the fifth year. Priorities set in the state’s transportation plan include equitably meeting long-term needs of all transportation users, including cyclists, drivers, pedestrians and public transit users.

Western states expanding monoclonal antibody treatment
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

As the region's hospitals are overrun with COVID patients, some hope monoclonal antibody treatment will ease the crisis, but it’s far from a panacea.

Western states are expanding monoclonal antibody treatment. It’s an option after you get sick with COVID-19 that produces antibodies similar to those from the vaccine. The therapy reduces your chance of getting severely sick and going to the hospital, and some vaccine skeptics appear more open to this treatment, but it costs a lot more than the vaccine.

"These antibody treatments, though, are exquisitely expensive, and so we're talking about something like $21,000 per vial. And, right now, individuals are not seeing those costs, because the federal government has paid for those vaccines and is paying for the cost of administration, but that's a time-limited solution," said Jennifer Reich, who studies vaccine behavior at University of Colorado, Denver.

That means tens of thousands of tax dollars are going to monoclonal antibody treatment when there’s an alternative: the COVID-19 vaccine, which costs closer to $20 per person.

New grant program created for Nevada teachers still in school
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Department of Education has created a grant program to support future Nevada educators. The Incentivizing Pathways to Teaching program will provide tuition assistance or stipends for college students studying to become teachers. The program aims to alleviate the financial hardship of completing a degree or a student teaching assignment. The money is from federal coronavirus relief funds.

The recipients are required to seek employment in a public school in the state. The Nevada Department of Education estimated the state needs at least 3,000 teachers to improve classroom sizes.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
Bert is KUNR’s senior correspondent. He covers stories that resonate across Nevada and the region, with a focus on environment, political extremism and Indigenous communities.
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