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Nye schools superintendent offers insights about his Washington, D.C. trip

Nye County Schools Superintendent Dale Norton headed to Washington, D.C. this summer to advocate on several issues that impact the state of Nevada’s education systems and the Nye school district.

Norton, who represents the Nevada Association of School Superintendents on the governing board for the national AASA (American Association of School Administrators), the school Superintendents Association, headed to Washington in July and met with staffers and members of Nevada’s congressional delegation to talk on educational issues that impact the state and the district.

“We (AASA) have a legislative advocacy conference in Washington D.C. every year,” Norton said. “That group has an advocacy conference there every year. That gives us an opportunity to go sit with our congressman and senators, representatives and have wholesome conversations with them about educational issues.”

Norton sat down with a reporter from the Pahrump Valley Times to speak about what the future may hold on and what’s happening in Washington on several issues, including educational funding, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act and several other topics.

Norton said he was accompanied by Dr. David Jensen, superintendent for the Humboldt County School District, another representative from Nevada for the national chapter of the association of school administrators.

Medicaid funding

Norton talked with Congress members and staffers about Medicaid funding in schools. He said the Nye school district is facing issues with this funding.

“Schools can apply for Medicaid funding for Medicaid services that are provided,” Norton said. “The problem with it is that they’ve made it such a bureaucratic mess, that the paperwork is so much, that it’s not worth the time, effort and energy to apply for the Medicaid because you can’t even pay a staffer to do it.”

Norton advocated for the process to be scaled back during his trip.

“How can you scale down the process for Medicaid, so that it’s realistic to the dollars that you get back from Medicaid?” Norton said.

Norton pointed to issues Humboldt County’s school district is facing.

“Humboldt County is in the position,” Norton said. “They’ve been billing for a couple years. They use a third-party vendor, but they’re at the point where they may not even be able to continue to do it because it’s costing them so much to do the process.”

The Nye school district is also at a tipping point too, according to Norton.

“We’re at that point too,” he said. “We were kind of it wasn’t worth our time, effort and energy to do it, because we couldn’t afford to do it, but our scale is tipping a little bit. But if they would ease it up in D.C. a little bit to say you don’t have to do so much damn paperwork.”

Because of the extra costs associated with administrative paperwork under Medicaid in schools, special education funding is being affected, he said.

“That impacts our kids under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)… Those are dollars that can go back into services for the kids, because we’re putting dollars into special needs, into special education from our general fund…,” Norton said.

“We’re supplementing special ed funding from our general fund to the tune of $9 million,” he said.

IDEA funding

On his trip, Norton was also advocating for IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) funding. Legislation was introduced earlier in 2019 in Congress called the IDEA Full Funding Act.

Norton said he was pushing to keep the funding for the fiscal year 2020 at the same level it was marked at in fiscal year 2019 during his Washington trip.

“They (Congress) are reauthorizing this act and trying to get it, we are at a shortfall of $9 million,” Norton said. “With that, we need some financial relief as that moves forward.”

“If the federal would incorporate more funding for that, we could take that $9 million that we’re supplanting that with because we have to,” he said. “It’s not a choice, that we have x-amount of dollars back into our general fund that we can do something else with for all.”

Norton said, “They (federal lawmakers) were all tuned into special ed. They’re all tuned into the fact that they’re not getting enough support, financially, to take care of the bills that we have for that.”

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com on Twitter @MeehanLv

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