With a school choice measure still being considered in the Nevada Legislature, Gov. Joe Lombardo heard Christian school students and parents tell how school choice policies have helped them.
“Today, we’re trying to achieve momentum,” Lombardo told the packed auditorium at Mountain View Christian School last week. “We want legislators who are making the decisions to hear your voice… The people in this community qualify (for the scholarship). The people in this community want that.”
“Hopefully we’re going to achieve that this week, because we’re running out of time, as you know,” he said, alluding to the end of the legislative session on June 5.
The event was packed with scores of families eager to share their successes with the governor, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The school choice bill, AB 400, aims to increase the state’s budget for the popular Opportunity Scholarship program from a flat $6.6 million to 0.5% of the state’s Education Fund in the first year, increasing to a full 5% by the 2031-32 school year.
In addition, the bill allows charter schools to apply for public transportation funds, allows students to transfer between public schools within a district (provided there are openings) and allows a city or county within the state to sponsor charter schools.
It also increases the maximum income limit for the Opportunity Scholarship program from 300% to 500% of the federal poverty level and reinstates the “Read by 3” law, which requires districts to hold students back if they can’t read at grade level by the 3rd grade.
At Mountain View Christian, Lombardo heard from families about how the Opportunity Scholarship program has impacted them.
Many students, such as 11th-grader Liberty Lockwood, contrasted the welcoming atmosphere at Mountain View with the bullying they experienced in public schools.
“No one has ever given up on me once [at Mountain View],” Lockwood told the governor, highlighting the potentially life-changing opportunity the scholarship program made available to her.
Senior and student body president Kristyn Ramos spoke about her amazing academic turnaround at the Christian school.
“All this would not be possible without Opportunity Scholarships,” she said.
Sixth grader Ezra Ramos, who was a homeschool transfer, told Lombardo he lacked social skills before attending Mountain View. Now, he says he’s a thriving honor roll student.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for the Opportunity Scholarship,” he said.
Finally, several students said they are now able to freely express their religious beliefs without fear of repercussion, telling the governor this wasn’t the case while they attended public schools.
When asked about potential roadblocks to getting the bill passed, such disagreement over the incremental funding increases set forth in the bill, Lombardo signaled his willingness to compromise in order to get the bill across the finish line.
“You know what, if it has to be incremental, it needs to be incremental,” he said. “And, we will continue to address it as years go by. We don’t have to have the answer all at once.”