Q: Who is Empower Nevada's Future? A group of statewide business and community leaders, education advocates, educators and parents working together to put pressure on lawmakers to address the state’s chronic failure to adequately fund its schools.
Q: Why should we invest additional dollars into education? A: A well-educated community has a positive impact on its well-being and local economy.
The Guinn Center for Policies and Priorities has said “One of the biggest challenges facing Nevada’s long term economic expansion is the lack of career and college readiness for adults and K-12 students.” Our students need to be ready for careers or college to become strong performers in our state.
●Economic development agencies have reported that businesses shun Nevada because of its underfunded K-12 systems. Citing:
>Uneducated and unqualified workers who are unable to meet the demands of private businesses.
>A subpar public school system that employers don’t want to subject their children or their employees' children to.
Q: Didn't Nevada recently invest millions of additional dollars for education? A: The increased education funds from the last few sessions have increased student achievement, however a big portion are for restricted-use funds and cannot be equated with increases in overall funding. Restricted funds cannot go towards general operating expenses such as increased transportation costs, employee salaries, maintenance, etc. Furthermore, restricted-use funds are unreliable, as they must be reauthorized each session and the amount to serve each students does not increase with inflation. Additionally, in the last ten years the general funds provided for K-12 in Nevada have not kept up with inflation.
Note: The new K-12 funding formula known as the Pupil Center Funding Plan (PCFP) creates a new State Education Fund Account where ALL dollars will go into making the process more transparent to know if there is actual growth in overall education funding.
Q: How do we know Nevada needs additional funds for education? A: Four studies have been conducted on the needed resources for education in Nevada The most recent study commissioned by the Legislature to analyze its funding formula, Nevada Plan (Distributive School Account) found that Nevada needs to invest at least $1.6 billion additional dollars to meet federal and state mandates. Nevada also ranks 49th in education finance per Ed Week and was given an “F” for funding equity, effort and levels from the Education Law Center’s National Report Card. In fact, Nevada was the only state to get "F's" in all three categories.
Q: How do we ensure an increase in funds targets all the students who need it? A: The SB543 K-12 funding commission is working to identify adequate/optimal base per pupil funding for all students, how funding levels should be adjusted based on each district’s needs, and what additional funding (weights) should be provided to students with unique needs such as English Language Learners, special education, at-risk and Gifted and Talented (GATE) students. The commission must then identify a way to reach appropriate funding within 10 years. This could mean potential new revenue sources or different allocations of existing funds
Q: Isn’t mismanagement the most critical issue? A: Nevada K-12 funding has only increased by an average of 1.3 percent, not even keeping up with the true inflation rates districts face, which averages around 2.5 percent. This makes it difficult to keep up with increased salary demands, healthcare costs, rising utility costs, unfunded mandates and other growing expenses. Several school districts across the state arefacing similar budget shortfalls and are having to make cuts in their budgets, as well as enduring increasing class sizes just to balance their budgets and fund other legislative mandates. While mismanagement could be an issue, increased costs that don’t keep up with revenue can cause a shortfall in any organization. Q: What assurance do we have that an increase in funds will be used appropriately? A: The K-12 funding commission will include accountability provisions and proven methods of success that address the needs outlined by the purpose of additional funds.
Q: Didn’t the 2019 Legislature revamp the K-12 funding formula?: A. Yes, the legislature did revamp the funding formula but a last minute change removed a guarantee to increase K-12 funds at the rate of inflation or Nevada’s economic growth as written in the first draft of the bill. The new funding formula mostly just redistributes the existing funds and possibly harms rural school districts. Before committing to the new funding formula, a model will run along side the current formula, The Nevada Plan, for two years until FY 2021 while a commission studies and makes recommendations for the new funding formula.
Q: What is the role of the SB543 funding commission?: A:The SB543 Commission will decide how to implement the new public education funding formula by discussing the following key issues as part of their charge under the law.
Review the base per pupil funding amount, the adjusted per pupil funding for each district and the multiplier for weighted funding for each category of student needs and recommend revisions as they determine to be appropriate.
Review state laws and regulations related to education and make recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public education.
Review and make recommendations relative to the pupil-centered funding Plan’s equity and cost adjustment factors, which include those for each county, small schools and districts.
The commission has two years to discuss these changes and get the data necessary to implement the new formula.
Q: Will additional funds be part of the new funding formula? A:The commission must identify adequate/optimal base per pupil funding for all students, how funding levels should be adjusted based on each district’s needs, and what additional funding (weights) should be provided to students with unique needs. The commission is also working to identify a way to reach appropriate funding within 10 years. This could mean potential new revenue sources or different allocations of existing funds. The commission only make recommendations to the legislature who has the ultimate authority to increase revenue.
Q: Did the legislature approve an increase in revenue for education? A: The legislature itself did not raise taxes but allowed local counties to increase taxes to support education related programs. Clark County Commissioners voted to increase the sales tax by one eighth of a cent which is expected to raise approximately $54 million for education and social service programs. These funds cannot pay directly for education expenses such as salaries or books but can be used for support services like early childhood education or truancy programs. The tax increase will be split between services that support students and social services like homelessness and workforce training for adults.