- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A Senate budget committee passed a handful of bills Tuesday implementing Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature, multimillion-dollar education initiatives.

The Senate Finance Committee approved SB391, SB405, SB432 and SB474. The measures are now headed for a vote of the full Senate, although the amount of money allocated to each program is still dependent on how lawmakers decide to finalize the state budget.

SB391 implements a Read by 3 initiative that creates a requirement for students to read by third grade. Sandoval’s budget calls for millions of dollars so districts can hire literacy specialists, buy educational software or offer professional development to teachers toward that goal.

SB405 expands the Zoom School initiative, which provides extra money to schools with high populations of English language learners.

SB432 would create a Victory Schools program similar to Zoom Schools, but for low-income parts of the state. State superintendent Dale Erquiaga estimated 30-35 schools in Clark Washoe Humboldt, Elko and Nye counties would participate, many of which had high populations of African American, Native American and rural poor students.

Erquiaga said the Zoom School and Victory School initiatives will help the state collect data that will be used to create a weighted education funding formula. When that’s developed, schools will get additional funding for students depending on whether they’re enrolled in special education, are learning English or are living in poverty.

SB474 creates the Great Teaching and Leading Fund, which would provide grants for professional development for teachers and administrators.

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