Education

Education Savings Accounts: Get The Facts, Fast!

Sep 3, 2015
Gabriella Benavidez

There's a lot of information, and confusion, surrounding Nevada's new Education Savings Account program. To get the lowdown, check out our handy infographic:

Alexa Ard

Although some in the state legislature are selling Nevada’s new education savings account program as a benefit for low-income students, many Washoe County families don't see it as a realistic option for them.

I wanted to see if parents and students at Reno's low-income public schools had heard of the ESA program, and what they thought of it. So I hit the streets just as school was letting out.

“Have you heard about the Education Savings Account program in Nevada?”

“No”

“No, sorry me no.”

“Have you heard about the Education Savings Account program?”

Alexa Ard

Excitement is building around Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESA) Program, which will give eligible families about $5,000 a year to subsidize their child’s private or home school education. 

But as the application process gets underway, many parents are also voicing a lot of confusion and frustration. For the latest on the situation, Reno Public Radio’s News Director Michelle Bliss reached out to State Treasurer Dan Schwartz whose office is running the program. 

State's 100-Day Rule Vexes Private School Parents

Aug 31, 2015
Alexa Ard

  This week our news team is taking an in depth look at the state's new Education Savings Account program in a five-part series called Nevada's Gamble on School Choice. To kick things off, our reporter Julia Ritchey tells us how private school parents are at arms over one of the most controversial elements of the law: the so-called 100-days rule. 

Washoe Schools Unprepared For Population Growth

Aug 28, 2015
Anh Gray

Washoe County School District officials painted a bleak picture Friday of the future of repair and construction needs to a newly formed committee on public school overcrowding. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey was there and has this report.

The average age of a Washoe County public school is 39 years old and $25 million a year is the minimum needed for repairs and renovations to the district's crumbling infrastructure.

Parents Seek Clarity On Education Savings Program

Aug 21, 2015
Julia Ritchey

  Nevada Treasury officials heard from a crowd of frustrated and confused private school parents during a hearing Friday on the state's new Education Savings Account program. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey was there.

More than three dozen parents spoke during public comment to air grievances about a key provision of the new program known as the 100-day rule.

Again and again, their concerns sounded like this:

"I implore you once again to examine legislative intent with regard to the 100 days," said parent Bri Thorson.

For Struggling Schools, New Year Brings More Money

Aug 10, 2015
Julia Ritchey

Summer break is officially over for the 63,000 students returning to Washoe County Schools on Monday. Reno Public Radio’s Julia Ritchey visited one of the state’s newly designated Victory Schools, which will receive extra money this year.

Kids shuffled to class as the tardy bell signaled the start of another school year for Libby Booth Elementary.

Booth is one of four so-called Victory Schools set to receive additional funds to help its low-income student body. Nearly all of Booth’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch. 

Washoe County Schools are opening their doors Monday to 63,000 students as K-12 classes get underway. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details on two district-wide changes going into effect this school year.

One big change is that all kindergartners in Washoe now have access to free full-day schooling. The state legislature approved funding to roll this out statewide a year from now, but the Washoe County School District has decided to offer it at every elementary school now.

Full-time Enrollment Surges At Nevada Colleges

Aug 7, 2015
Nevada System of Higher Education

College students who take 15 credits or more a semester – which is considered full-time – have a better chance at graduating. That’s according to Nevada higher education officials. And their philosophy seems to be paying off. 

TMCC

Truckee Meadows Community College will be offering bachelor's degree programs for the first time starting next year. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

One degree will be in emergency management and homeland security. The other will be in logistics operations management, which includes everything from manufacturing to warehousing to sustainability practices. 

Food Bank Expanding Summer Meals Program

Jun 12, 2015
Jocelyn Lantrip: Food Bank of Northern Nevada

Approximately 48 percent of students in the Washoe County School District qualify for free lunch at school, but hunger can be risk during the summer months when these meals aren't available. 

Never Too Late: Young Man Returns To Get Diploma

Jun 12, 2015

All week, KUNR has been exploring the challenges that young people face on their way to graduation. But some obstacles are often too hard to overcome. Reno Public Radio’s Esther Ciammachilli spoke to Ian Moline, who says transiency and a self-described “egregious drug addiction” held him back. 

We often hear Nevada’s high school graduation rate described as low, dismal, embarrassing. It sits at 70 percent while some states are approaching 90. Even though Nevada lags behind, there is a growing patchwork of programs and interventions that are working. For our series “Making It To Graduation,” Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss talks to some of the educators and mentors who are on the ground level trying to improve the graduation rate one kid at a time. 

Next year, voters in Washoe County may have to decide on whether to increase local taxes to pay for school construction and repairs. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details.

Right now, the school district says it needs about $50 million each year to keep up with critical repairs for its oldest facilities and to house more students. Overcrowding is already an issue and enrollment is projected to grow by 1.7 percent annually. That means the district will need to open 15 new buildings over the next decade. 

Swimming Upstream: Student With Autism Pushes To Graduate

Jun 10, 2015

All week, KUNR has been looking at students who have excelled despite adversity. Some who have intellectual challenges like autism have a harder time finishing high school and in fact, only about a third in Washoe County actually do. Making it to graduation has been a struggle for one young man who suffers from this disorder, as Reno Public Radio’s Esther Ciammachilli explains.

A historic tax hike of more than a billion dollars will soon help reform K-12 education in Nevada. But how will that money be tracked to make sure it supports real improvement? And during such a severe teacher shortage, who will even be on the ground level to implement change?

To get the answers, Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss talked to Dale Erquiaga, the state superintendent of public instruction. Their conversation is part of our series Making It To Graduation.

Nevada lawmakers are reviewing a bill that would require elementary and middle school students to learn about personal finance. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

Right now, state law only requires financial literacy lessons for high school students.

High school Senior Kyle Walker from Las Vegas is a member of the Nevada Youth Legislature and spoke at a committee hearing on the bill Tuesday. He says simply being prepared for college isn't enough anymore.

Between 2011 and 2013, how many sexual offenses would you guess were reported at UNR's campus?

Just one.

"Like there’s no problem at all, and we know that’s just not true.”

Jennifer Lowman works at UNR and conducted the new survey on sexual misconduct on campus.

School choice is a common refrain among conservatives when discussing education reform.

Seth Rau of the advocacy group Nevada Succeeds says it’s all the more important this session, given the governor’s plan to raise nearly a billion dollars for the state’s school system.

“Some Republicans are in favor of raising the revenue. Some Republicans are not, but the choice issues are the ones that can unite Republicans.”

Nevada's graduation rate dips

Jan 23, 2015

Nevada's graduation rate went down last year. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

The graduation rate for Nevada's Class of 2014 dipped just slightly to 70 percent. That's less than 1 percentage point below the previous year, according to the Nevada Department of Education.

In Washoe County, the graduation rate held steady at 72 percent. Traci Davis is interim superintendent for the district.  

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