Higher ed, higher tech
The race in the Nevada Board of Regents District 9 pits Carol Del Carlo and Sara Lafrance against each other.
The regents govern higher education in the state. They are responsible for setting policies and approving budgets for Nevada’s entire public system of higher education. This includes four community colleges, one state college, two universities and one research institute. Board members are elected to serve six-year terms.
The two candidates have very similar goals for higher education, but differ in their approach. They see workforce development, especially at the community college level, as vital for Nevadans to fill incoming jobs.
The ninth district is one of the largest in the state, covering Esmeralda, Mineral, Lyon, Douglas, Churchill, Storey and Lander counties, plus Carson City and southern Washoe County. This district includes some of the most rural and least-populated areas in the state.
Del Carlo takes pride in her familiarity with these counties. Her husband’s military service led them to live in different areas of the world. According to Del Carlo, her experience abroad and her prior work with General Motors taught her the “people skills” necessary for success on the board. She says she has been involved in community service throughout her life. She sees her potential involvement with the Board as an extension of it.
“I’ve always been a giver, and I just see this as a higher form of public service,” Del Carlo said. “I’ve seen how my state has grown in my life and how important education is. I want to be a part of that.”
Del Carlo hopes to increase attention toward community colleges throughout the state. She sees current budgets as weighted toward four-year colleges. She says shifting the board’s attention toward community colleges will help Nevada’s economy by providing training necessary for the state’s changing economy.
“It’s really great to see the state diversifying [economically], so when the next recession hits, we won’t be so dependent on one industry,” Del Carlo said.
Although this race is nonpartisan, Del Carlo has received endorsements from conservative politicians in the state, including U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei. Del Carlo said she has been involved in the Republican Party.
Lafrance has a more extensive background in higher education. She is involved in four different higher education boards.
Lafrance helped start a company involved in technology and software, which she says has given her the knowledge needed to help manage higher ed. She says Nevada’s quickly changing technological jobs need to be matched by the state’s education.
“We have to think out of the box and think of more progressive ways to approach education,” Lafrance said. “It’s so important that the new jobs coming into the state are filled by Nevadans.”
Lafrance’s plans are fairly concrete. If elected, she has three initiatives she hopes to introduce. The first involves workforce development, especially at the community college level, to fill the high-tech jobs coming to the state of Nevada. The second is to streamline costs and establish creative ways of approaching funding. This includes public and private partnerships for college and university services and educational opportunities. The third involves improving educational access in the rural areas of the state. Establishing distance-learning programs through various means will help students in rural areas, according to Lafrance.
She says students in Nevada require the training and skills needed for a changing economy.
Lafrance said she has been nonpartisan for the past 20 years.