Posts Tagged ‘Rene Cantú Jr.’

Southern Nevadans Oppose Plan To Eliminate Local Workforce Development Board

By Sean Whaley | 12:00 pm June 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Representatives and supporters of the Clark County workforce investment board today strongly opposed a plan being pushed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to consolidate the two local boards in an effort to make more money available to train the unemployed.

At a public hearing on Sandoval’s proposal, Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of Workforce Connections, read a letter opposing the plan, called  “Moving Nevada Forward: A Plan For Excellence in Workforce Development.”

He was joined by other speakers, including René Cantú Jr., executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation, and Richard Boulware, first vice president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP, in opposing the consolidation proposal.

“Workforce Connections staff and board are responsive to the needs of local funded partners, and understand our community and our clients, and our own challenges of Southern Nevada nonprofits,” Cantú said. “Ardell Galbreth, interim director, has provided the Latin Chamber Foundation with tremendous commitment of support and here in the south they understand us and are committed to helping us.”

There is an overwhelming consensus in Southern Nevada that consolidation would threaten funding to groups like the Latin Chamber foundation, he said.

Job training tour by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. / Photo courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Labor.

“There’s also an overwhelming consensus that such a move would lead to less sensitivity to local needs, that it would skew funding north, that it would allow (the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitiation (DETR), to allot the funds arbitrarily and without accountability to the community, clients or funded partners,” Cantú said. “Based on these considerations I would ask, respectfully, that the boards be allowed to remain as they are.”

There is a need for reform, and Galbreth is moving in that direction, he said.

Boulware said people in the local community know best what their needs are.

“And what we don’t need, with all due respect to the state and to the governor, are people from outside of our local community telling us what we need and where we need to spend our money,” he said.

The NAACP will be opposing the proposed consolidation at all levels, Boulware said.

DETR officials heard public comment but took no immediate action on the proposal.

Currently, funding is provided from the federal Department of Labor to the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board and funneled to two local boards, one in Southern Nevada and the other in Northern Nevada. These boards in turn contract with public and private organizations to offer workforce training programs to youth and adults and dislocated workers.

Sandoval is moving forward with the consolidation plan following an audit of Workforce Connections that showed excessive spending on administration and other costs.

Galbreth, who took over leadership of the agency in April, said last month in  response to the audit that major changes have been implemented to reduce administrative and other costs.

In announcing the plan to change the operation of the boards, Sandoval said: “This new plan calls for greater collaboration between workforce development and the newly restructured Governor’s Office Economic Development, which earlier this year released its plan under the ‘Moving Nevada Forward’ label as well. A key area of focus for my administration is building the type of trained workforce that will support economic diversification.”

Organizations currently contracted as service providers to citizens for workforce needs will continue in the same capacity, but will be managed by DETR staff instead of the northern and southern board offices. Federal funding designated for each of the local workforce investment areas will remain unchanged; no geographic area of the state gains or loses under the reorganization and existing providers can remain in place if they are delivering the appropriate level of service to the end-user.

The audit of the state’s two local workforce investment boards found the Southern Nevada agency spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart.

If the southern board cut its local expenses to mirror those of the northern Nevada board, another $1.9 million would have been available to job seekers in fiscal year 2011, the review found. The audit showed Workforce Connections spent 21 percent on administration and monitoring compared to only 11.3 percent in the north.

Sandoval is seeking to finalize the consolidation by the end of this year.

-

Audio clips:

René Cantú Jr., the executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation, says Workforce Connections is responsive to the needs of the community:

061112Cantu1 :21 to helping us.”

Cantú Jr. says there are concerns that consolidation will skew funding to the north:

061112Cantu2 :26 as they are.”

Richard Boulware, first vice president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP, says local officials know best how to help the community:

061112Boulware :13 spend our money.”

Three Finalists Forwarded To Gov. Sandoval For His Pick For State Schools Chief

By Sean Whaley | 1:42 pm February 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Two Nevadans and a scholar from Texas made the final cut today for the job of state superintendent of public instruction.

René Cantú Jr., Caroline McIntosh and James Guthrie were selected from among five finalists by the state Board of Education to forward to Gov. Brian Sandoval for him to select the new state public schools chief. Sandoval is expected to announce his choice sometime next month.

René Cantú Jr. is currently the executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation and former vice president of multicultural affairs at Nevada State College.

James Guthrie is a senior fellow and director of education policy studies at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Unified School District in California.

Caroline McIntosh is the superintendent of schools for the Lyon County School District.

Guthrie was the top finalist, winning favorable votes from all 10 members of the board. Cantú and McIntosh received 8-2 votes.

Sandoval has called the appointment of a new superintendent one of the most important he will make as governor.

James Guthrie.

The five candidates were interviewed by the board on Wednesday and Thursday.

Keith Rheault, Nevada’s current superintendent is retiring in early April.

Sandoval wants a new schools chief on board well ahead of the 2013 legislative session.

As a result of education reform legislation approved by the 2011 Legislature, Sandoval now has the authority to appoint the new schools chief. In the past the 10-member Board of Education had the authority to select the superintendent.

The board today discussed the qualifications and qualities of all five candidates before voting.

Board Vice President Adriana Fralick said of Cantú: “He knows education. He is eager and excited to work. I think of all of them he probably would work harder to prove himself. I like that about him. He may not have as much experience management-wise as some of the others but I think he had a lot of good points.”

Board member Willia Chaney said McIntosh was energetic in her interview and already has a working knowledge of the problems and challenges facing public education in Nevada.

“And I think that she has a strong vision and she has high expectations,” Chaney said. “And I believe that any person who is going to lead the Department of Education has to have high expectations.”

Board member Craig Wilkinson was one of several board members who spoke very highly of Guthrie, saying he would clearly seek out the opinions of others and get to know all of the stakeholders in the education reform effort.

“He was for the students,” Wilkinson said. “I like that. He wasn’t just education. He was for the students and teachers.”

-

Audio clips:

Board Vice President Adriana Fralick says Cantú knows education:

022412Fralick :26 of good points.”

Board member Willia Chaney says McIntosh was energetic in her interview and already has a working knowledge of the problems and challenges facing public education in Nevada:

022412Chaney :31 have high expectations.”

Board member Craig Wilkinson says Guthrie will seek out the opinions of others:

022412Wilkinson :21 students and teachers.”

 

Five Educators, Three From Nevada, Picked As Finalists For Nevada Public Education Chief

By Sean Whaley | 5:29 pm January 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Five finalists for Nevada’s top public education job were submitted today to the state Board of Education.

The names of three finalists will be forwarded to Gov. Brian Sandoval for his final selection after interviews are conducted by the Board of Education next month.

The five finalists, picked from 15 applicants who sought the position of state superintendent of public instruction, are:

- René Cantú Jr., currently the executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation and former vice president of multicultural affairs at Nevada State College;

René Cantú Jr.

- James Guthrie, senior fellow and director of education policy studies at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Unified School District in California.

- Magdalena Martinez, assistant vice chancellor for academic and student affairs with the Nevada System of Higher Education;

- Caroline McIntosh, superintendent of schools for the Lyon County School District;

James Guthrie.

- Sylvia McMullen, co-founder of the Education Data Collaborative and executive director of the Texas Education Reform Foundation, of College Park, Texas;

Keith Rheault, Nevada’s current superintendent who will be retiring in early April, said the state board is scheduled to interview the finalists on Feb. 22 and 23, voting on Feb. 24 on three finalists to forward to Sandoval for his consideration for a March appointment.

Sandoval wants a new schools chief on board well ahead of the 2013 legislative session.

As a result of education reform legislation approved by the 2011 Legislature, Sandoval now has the authority to appoint the new schools chief. In the past the 10-member Board of Education had the authority to select the superintendent.

Magdalena Martinez.

Magdalena Martinez.

The job pays about $121,785 a year plus benefits.

Sandoval has called the appointment one of the most important he will make as governor.

Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Sandoval, helped pick the five finalists.

The reform legislation in Senate Bill 197 also changes the makeup of the state Board of Education following the 2012 general election. The board will have four elected members, one from each of the state’s congressional districts, one member appointed by Sandoval and one member each selected by the Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker. There will also be four non-voting members appointed by the governor representing different public education interests.

Sandoval and lawmakers also agreed to a number of education reforms in the 2011 session, including a new teacher evaluation process to ensure the best educators remain in the classroom.

 

Citizens Panel Appointees Ask for Patience as They Consider Nevada’s Vision for the Future

By Sean Whaley | 4:21 pm December 28th, 2009
CARSON CITY – As lawmakers prepare to study the state’s revenue structure and develop a long-term vision for Nevada’s future, several members of a citizens panel appointed to assist in the process agree on two points: Give us a chance before you pass judgment on our effort, and don’t put our work on a shelf.

“It’s tough to criticize something that hasn’t happened yet,” said Boyd Martin of Boyd Martin Construction, who is representing the Las Vegas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors on the 19-member panel. “I hope the panel will be effective; that the time will be well spent. I want our results to have some meaning.”

Marsha Irvin, chancellor of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, said the task of identifying what the state’s quality of life should look like in the next 5 to 20 years is of monumental importance.

An educator for 32 years, Irvin said: “I’m going into the process with the perspective of being very open minded.”

It is premature to suggest what, if any, recommendations regarding a tax increase will come from the group, she said. The first task is to examine where Nevada is now, where it should be and then set out to bring that vision to reality, Irvin said.

The panel will work closely with Moody’s Analytics, a contractor hired by the Legislature to perform the study of the state’s revenue structure at a cost of $253,000. The contractor has until July 1 to complete its review.

The Nevada News Bureau interviewed a half dozen members of the “Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group” to get their views on the challenging job ahead. The members were appointed last month by the Legislature. The panel will meet for the first time on January 8, 2010.

While the panel has yet to meet, its makeup has been criticized by some Republican lawmakers for having too many representatives of interests that consume tax revenue as opposed to those that produce tax revenue. There is also a belief by some critics, including Gov. Jim Gibbons, that a recommendation for a tax increase from the panel is a forgone conclusion.

Panel member Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs for the state’s largest private employer, MGM Mirage, said criticism of the panel’s work is welcome as long as it comes from those willing to participate in finding solutions to the state’s challenges.

“Nothing is going to easy about this,” he said. “I’m not approaching it from a certain political point of view.”

But don’t play Monday morning quarterback, Feldman said.

“As a representative of the largest employer in the state, as a parent, as a member of this commission, we cannot under any circumstances let our educational system continue on the way it is,” he said.

Which is not to say there aren’t efficiencies that can be implemented, Feldman said.

Donald Snyder, who serves as the volunteer chairman of the board of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas and who is a former president of the Boyd Gaming Corp., said he is optimistic the panel can produce a report of value for use by lawmakers and the governor.

“I think this type of process is difficult even under the best of circumstances,” he said. “But if ever there was a time we need to take a long-term look, now is the time to do it.”

Snyder said the charge to the panel can only be accomplished with the public and private sectors working together to put their best thoughts forward for consideration by the group.

“If it is just another exercise in a study that will go nowhere, I will be really disappointed,” he said.

Rene Cantú Jr., vice president of multicultural affairs for Nevada State College and representing the Latin Chamber of Commerce on the panel, said Nevada needs to get away from its boom and bust cycles. Expanding the diversity of the state’s employment base would help to accomplish that goal.

“There needs to be some sort of method of stabilizing our funding for schools and roads,” he said. “I don’t believe throwing money at public education will improve our schools. We must spend smartly. But we have to spend if we want a good quality of life.”

Denise Tanata Ashby, executive director of the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy at UNLV, said as a panel member she will reach out to as many people and points of view as possible.

Previous studies of Nevada’s tax structure have not been very successful, but Tanata Ashby believes this time might be different.

“We’re looking at a different climate right now,’ she said. “I hope there we can put some solid recommendations together that are going to improve Nevada.”

Tanata Ashby said it is time to gain some ground in Nevada’s poor rankings on issues affecting children. This doesn’t necessarily mean a tax increase, but possibly a realignment of where tax dollars are being spent, she said.

While Nevada cannot expect to move into first place in quality of life rankings overnight, progress needs to be made, Ashby said.

“We are all taxpayers ourselves,” she said. “But at some point, everybody has to contribute if we want that vision of Nevada that we have.”

State Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, has said he believes the panel is well represented by business and other varied interests throughout the state.

But state Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, in comments made after the panel was named last month, said he believes the outcome of the review will be a call for higher taxes since only six of the 19 are in the “taxpayer” category.

A review of the voter registration of the members of the panel shows that 12 are Democrats, five are Republicans and two are nonpartisan.

To critics of the panel‘s composition, it is a further sign that the end result of the review will be a preordained call for higher taxes.

Townsend said the next Legislature already faces the challenge of how to fill a multi-billion dollar gap in the budget before considering additional spending on public education or other quality of life issues.

“Not to criticize the contractor, but the problem is no one will admit that the society we want, we can’t afford,” he said. “We want everyone to have health care, jobs and educational opportunities. That’s great. But who is going to pay for that?”