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Gibbons forms education task force; Elaine Wynn to co-chair

Updated Monday, March 15, 2010 | 1:55 p.m.

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Gov. Jim Gibbons formed an education task force today to help guide the state's application for federal Race to the Top education grants and make recommendations for broader reforms to be enacted during the 2011 Legislature.

Las Vegas casino executive and education advocate Elaine Wynn and Nevada higher education Chancellor Dan Klaich will co-chair the task force. Both Wynn and Klaich are well-respected names in Nevada's education community. Their agreement to head the panel gives the committee some credibility and could represent a PR coup for Gibbons.

The makeup of the group suggests an attempt by Gibbons and his staff to reach out to one-time opponents.

Three classroom teachers, Democratic and Republican legislators, business leaders and the president of the teacher's union have agreed to be part of the 29-member committee, which will hold its first meeting Friday.

Some observers have seen a more rejuvenated Gibbons willing to compromise as he faces a June primary.

There are other groups, such as the Legislature's Vision Stakeholders group and legislative committee on education, that have also been looking at education issues.

But, Gibbons said, "This committee is less political."

Klaich, who was at the announcement with Gibbons at a Carson City elementary school, said the goal of the committee was to come up with a consensus. But, he added, "There's a difference between unanimity and consensus."

Gibbons says the goal is to prepare Nevada students to be the "intellectual infrastructure" for the future.

Their first challenge will be to coordinate Nevada's application for federal "Race to the Top" grants. The state faces a June 1 application deadline. Gibbons handed the pen used to sign the executive order forming the blue ribbon task force to the interim president of Bordewich Bray Elementary School.

"With this pen, you'll know that at your school the future of education in Nevada was begun," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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