Minutes 03/16/2007

 Joint Meeting of the Board of Regents & State Board of Education 03/16/07 

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JOINT MEETING


BOARD OF REGENTS 
NEVADA SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION 
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
Aspen Building, Sarah Winnemucca Hall 
Western Nevada Community College 
2201 West College Parkway, Carson City 
Friday, March 16, 2007


Board of Regents 
Members Present:   Mr. Bret Whipple, Chair 
Dr. Stavros S. Anthony 
Dr. Thalia M. Dondero 
Mrs. Dorothy S. Gallagher 
Dr. Jason Geddes 
Mr. Ron Knecht 
Mr. James Dean Leavitt 
Mr. Howard Rosenberg 
Mr. Michael B. Wixom 
Members Absent:  Dr. Jack Lund Schofield, Vice Chair 
Mr. Mark Alden 
Mr. Cedric Crear 
Mr. Steve Sisolak 
  
State Board of Education 
Members Present:   Dr. Cliff Ferry, President 
Mrs. Jan Biggerstaff 
Mrs. Sharon Frederick 
Dr. John Gwaltney 
Mr. Gregory Nance 
Mr. Anthony Ruggiero 
Members Absent:  Mrs. Marcia L. Washington, Vice President 
Mrs. Barbara Myers, Clerk 
Dr. Merv Iverson 
Ms. Cindy Reid 
Ms. Madisen McGrath, Student (Ex-Officio) 
Others Present:  Executive Vice Chancellor Daniel Klaich 
Vice Chancellor, Academic & Student Affairs, Jane Nichols 
Associate Vice Chancellor, Technology, Kenneth McCollum 
Chief Counsel Bart Patterson 
Special Counsel Brooke Nielsen 
President Carol A. Lucey, WNCC 
Chief Executive Officer of the Board Scott Wasserman 
Dr. Keith Rheault, Superintendent of Public Instruction 
Ms. Gloria Dopf, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction 
Mr. James Wells, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction 
Dr. James E. Irvin Deputy Attorney General 
Mrs. Doris Arnold, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent 

Chairs Bret Whipple and Dr. Cliff Ferry called the meeting to order at 1:40 p.m. on Friday, March 16, 2007 with all members present except Regents Alden, Crear, Schofield and Sisolak and Dr. Iverson, Ms. McGrath, Mrs. Myers, Ms. Reid and Mrs. Washington 
  
1.   Information Only-Introductions - Chairs Bret Whipple and Cliff Ferry introduced members of the respective boards. 
  
2.   Information Only-Public Education Issues Being Considered by 2007 Legislature – The Board of Regents and the State Board of Education discussed issues affecting K-12 and higher education under consideration by the 2007 Legislature, including, but not limited to, the county school boards and superintendents’ blueprint for academic improvement in Nevada (known as iNVest – Investing in Nevada’s Education Students and Teachers ) and the P-16 Council. 
  
Dr. Ferry expressed his hope that both boards would identify legislative bills that they both could support. He introduced Dr. Keith Rheault, Superintendent of Public Instruction, to present the iNVest program and initiatives. 
  
Dr. Rheault explained that iNVest is based on three tenets, all designed to improve student achievement: 
1.   Districts must have adequate basic support; 
2.   Districts must have the capacity to attract and retain a quality work force; and 
3.   Districts must have the means to increase instructional time and expand educational opportunities. 
  
Dr. Rheault related that twelve initiatives were developed to support these three tenets: 
1.   Include annual inflation in the DSA; 
2.   Continue augmented funding of books, educational supplies and equipment; 
3.   Protect ending fund balance; 
4.   Salary increases for educational personnel; 
5.  Health benefits; 
6.   Incentives for licensed educational personnel; 
7.   Increased achievement for all students; 
8.   Funding for English language learners; 
9.  Full-day kindergarten; 
10.   Professional development for student achievement; 
11.   Classroom discipline and school safety; 
12.   Career and technical education. 
  
At Regent Dondero’s request, copies of Vice Chancellor Nichols’ report on Planning for Nevada’s Future were provided to the State Board. 
  
Chair Whipple noted the importance for the two boards to work together in light of the State’s revenue shortfall and limited resources. 
  
Dr. Ferry reported that in addition to iNVest, all members of the State Board were in support of other initiatives impacting K-12, such as governance of the K-12 system. He indicated that over the last 10 years, five commissions or councils had been created by the Legislature to address academic standards, teacher licensure, staff development and 

2.   Information Only-Public Education Issues Being Considered by 2007 Legislature    (Cont’d.) 
special projects. He indicated that the State Board is beginning to feel that their area of control has been encroached upon. 
  
Dr. Gwaltney stated that since 1993, the State’s educational funding gap has widened from approximately $640 to $2,100 per student below the national average. He indicated that it was unrealistic to expect the quality of public education to improve without changes to the funding. He reminded the Board that at the last joint meeting, the Board of Regents accepted and approved a motion to support a study of the State’s governance structure for public education. He stated that Senator Hardy will introduce a draft bill to request such a study during this legislative session. 
  
Dr. Rheault related that as of that morning, the draft bill had changed to a Senate Concurrent Resolution. The reason for the change was yet unknown. Dr. Gwaltney requested the Board’s support of this resolution. He indicated that the State Board has taken a bit of a gamble in raising this issue. He felt positive that the Legislature feels there is a need for the State Board but he was not so positive that a study would be approved. 
  
Dr. Ferry asked the Board of Regents to imagine the impact if over half of its responsibilities were removed, adding that this is where the State Board of Education currently finds itself. 
  
Dr. Gwaltney cited that a study would consider whether the school districts were teaching what is necessary for the students to know in order to succeed in education and whether that is the responsibility of the State Board or the Commission on Academic Standards. He indicated there is a lack of coordination between the State Board and the various legislative councils and felt that the K-12 and higher education systems could be more productive if allowed to work across from each other instead of through various commissions. 
  
In response to Chair Whipple’s question, Dr. Gwaltney explained the Commission on Academic Standards was created in 1997 and charged with determining what the principle standards K-12 students should know. He stated that he does not believe the Commission’s standards are in harmony with the expectations of higher education and felt this has contributed to the amount of remedial education that has become necessary. 
  
In answer to Executive Vice Chancellor Klaich’s question, Dr. Rheault related that in 1997 the Education Reform Act was passed, which allowed for the creation of several commissions and councils that were given specific authority to set and adopt the standards in eight academic areas including English, math, science, social studies, health, physical education, the arts and technology. Although the Council was not granted the authority to pass regulation, the statute requires the State Board to adopt the standards as set by the Commission. The State Board’s frustration lies in that the Commission on Academic Standards sets the educational standards while the State Board is not allowed input but is responsible to set the graduation requirements. 
  
Chair Whipple asked who the members of the Commission are and when they meet. 

2.   Information Only-Public Education Issues Being Considered by 2007 Legislature    (Cont’d.) 
Dr. Gwaltney explained that the current Commission is primarily charged with revising the standards approximately every five years and is comprised of legislative appointees, two parent representatives and two school district representatives. He added that the State Department of Education has also been charged with providing staff to all of the legislative councils. 
  
Executive Vice Chancellor Klaich asked whether the academic standards set by the Commission related to the high school graduation requirements. Dr. Rheault replied that the State Board still determines what classes and the number of credits are required to graduate. However, these councils determine the academic standards (what the students must know upon completion of 12th grade) . The graduation requirements are different and separate from the standards. 
  
Regent Knecht commiserated about the creation of bureaucracy. He noted that remedial math and writing skills often have to be taught in the first year of higher education. When students lack these skills, higher education has a more difficult time indoctrinating the students. 
  
Regent Rosenberg observed that decisions regarding public education were not being made by educators. He felt that the Legislature has lessened the role of the elected officials on the State Board of Education and asked how they can take that back. 
  
Mrs. Biggerstaff agreed but felt that education should not be left entirely to educators, noting that there were also teachers who were not prepared to teach. The State Board is an elected body and when these councils are created it takes control away from the people. 
  
Mr. Ruggiero noted that the two boards have common goals and asked for the continued support of the Board of Regents for the study of K-12 governance. 
  
Regent Gallagher asked Mr. Scott Wasserman, Chief Executive Officer of the Board, to explain the impact of the reduction of a bill to a Senate Concurrent Resolution. Mr. Wasserman stated that generally a bill is introduced to permanently change Nevada Revised Statutes. It would not be necessary to codify the creation of a study thereby reducing the bill draft to a resolution. Mr. Wasserman added that interim studies are introduced as concurrent resolutions to be approved by the Assembly and the Senate and do not require the Governor’s approval. Dr. Ferry indicated that the State Board’s concern is that each biennium there is a limited amount of dollars for studies of any kind. 
  
Regent Knecht expressed his concern for the content and the quality of what is taught to future teachers. He requested the State Board’s feedback to push the System to better prepare its teachers. 
  
Regent Geddes asked the State Board if they had identified an overall recommendation for the number of commissions that were necessary and which should be eliminated. Dr. Rheault stated there were approximately five commissions or counsels: the Commission on Academic Standards, the Teacher Licensing Commission, the Commission on 

2.   Information Only-Public Education Issues Being Considered by 2007 Legislature    (Cont’d.) 
Educational Technology, the State Council for Professional Development Programs and the Commission on Educational Excellence. 
  
Addressing teacher preparation, Regent Rosenberg stated that it was very important for the two boards to work together. He stated that when student teachers enter the public education classroom they must fit into an existing system that erodes much of their higher education instruction. He asked if there was a way for the two elected boards to help the Legislature understand that there must be some authority and autonomy to conduct business. Dr. Ferry indicated that there is a bill that addresses mentoring of new teachers. 
  
Regent Dondero related that through her participation in the PAYBAC program she has observed that teachers should be provided more tools to overcome some of the social problems they are experiencing. 
  
Regent Rosenberg related that one of his student teachers had also experienced difficulty due to cultural differences. In response to Mrs. Biggerstaff’s questions, Regent Rosenberg indicated that he sees his teaching students approximately once per week and only goes into their classes when the public school teachers agree to it. 
  
To further answer Regent Geddes’ previous question, Dr. Gwaltney indicated that the State Board’s concern regarding the various legislative councils is that combined, they have been provided well over $100 million. To further complicate matters there are 109 individuals involved in the councils that are often not communicating effectively. 
Through the Senate Concurrent Resolution, the State Board is requesting a study to determine whether a better method is available and what is politically feasible. He felt they had realized all of the improvement in performance that exists for teachers and students with the current level of funding. He felt that the only two options left were to either substantially raise the level of funding or to better use technology for instructional purposes. He said that it was important for the study to not only address the government’s structure but also consider its goals. 
  
Dr. Ferry clarified that the State Board will not take a formal position on any of the bills until their regular meeting later in the day. 
  
Dr. Ferry expressed his displeasure with the way SB 239 was written, feeling that it inferred that K-12 is a “farm team” for higher education. He stated that although the State Board has a responsibility to students that continue on to higher education, they also have a responsibility to those that do not. He informed the Board that this bill will be heard for the first time next week in the Senate and urged the Board’s awareness ( SB 239 was e-mailed to Board members ). 
  
Dr. Ferry related that the State Board has been greatly concerned by the number of Millennium Scholars requiring remedial education upon reaching higher education. He allowed that it could be due in part to grade inflation and suggested that perhaps GPA and SAT scores could be combined in some manner. 
  
Regent Wixom left the meeting. 

2.   Information Only-Public Education Issues Being Considered by 2007 Legislature    (Cont’d.) 
Executive Vice Chancellor Klaich related that the Board had directed the System’s lobbyists to work on a sustainable Millennium Scholarship program that will likely result in a smaller program on an annual basis. There are various structures being proposed that have been based on workforce development, need or merit. He stated that the System’s primary goal was to develop a sustainable program. 
  
Regent Anthony left the meeting. 
  
Dr. Rheault indicated that the Board should also be aware of SB 184 that designates the amount of units for high school graduation. Historically, the State Board held the authority to determine graduation requirements and allowed the local districts to decide the combination of the courses. He wanted the Board to be aware of the bill and cognizant that the State Board had not yet taken a position on it. 
  
Dr. Ferry felt that requiring an additional year of math would call for a 25% increase in math teachers, of which there are already an insufficient number. 
  
Chair Whipple apologized that he had to leave and that Regent Dondero would take over chairmanship duties. 
  
Dr. Ferry acknowledged that they too would have to leave for their meeting, adding that due to each board’s meeting schedule, some change would need to be made in order to accommodate future meetings. 
  
Chair Whipple stated that the Board would support the State Board on the generic issues and agreed to work together during the legislative session. 
  
Regent Dondero suggested that in the future, it would be helpful to have an agenda of two or three specific subjects so that members could be better prepared for discussion. 
  
Mrs. Frederick thanked the Board for Dr. Nichols’ report and the Board’s support of diversity in education. She stated that she was the Vice Chair of the Nevada Indian Commission and wished to thank the System and staff for their involvement in the joint task force. 
  
3.   Information Only-Public Comment – None. 
  
4.   Information Only-New Business – None. 
  
The meeting adjourned at 2:49 p.m. 
  
Scott G. Wasserman 
Chief Executive Officer of the Board