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Educators In Clark County Look Toward The Future

Associated Press

Saying “she’s an optimist by nature,” the president of a Southern Nevada education advocacy group sees better days ahead for students and teachers despite the lingering pandemic.

Kirsten Searer, president of the Public Education Foundation, said a pending $770 million injection of COVID-19 relief funds “is probably the largest infusion of federal dollars that our school system has seen.”

The foundation worked with the Guinn Center to collect input from more than 60 groups and 2,200 individuals on how that money could be used once it’s allocated by the Clark County School District.

She said the stakeholders want the funds to go toward "student success" as the community looks to get past the pandemic.

"People are very concerned, especially with the impacts of COVID, that they want to ensure that students have a plan for what they're going to do after school, whether it's college or career," Searer said.

The funds will be spent over three years and money could start flowing as early as November, she said.

Searer said the foundation also supports community-based measures to address the school district’s chronic teacher shortages.

“We need to invest in the recruitment of local homegrown talent,” she said. “One of the bills that we collaborated with legislators on this year was a bill to provide support to support professionals, classroom aides, janitors, bus drivers, people who work in offices to encourage them to become teachers.”

She also said new teachers need better mentoring to strengthen their ties to the community and the district.

"If you look at the turnover numbers in the first few years of becoming a teacher, it's it's dismal," Searer said. "We need to make sure that we're getting teachers at least for the first five years, so that they're invested in the retirement system and more comfortable in the classroom."

The foundation marks its 30th anniversary with a gala on Friday when top educators will be honored.

Kirsten Searer, president, Public Education Foundation 

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Zachary Green is the Coordinating Producer and a Reporter for KNPR's State of Nevada Program. He reports on Clark County, minority affairs, health, real estate, business, and gardening. You'll occasionally hear Zachary Green reporting and fill-in hosting on the State of Nevada program.