"We are pleased to finally see Senate Bill 543, the new school funding bill addresses many of the key goals of the Fund Our Future Nevada coalition, though some key issues are still to be resolved. SB 543 aims to ensure that potential new revenue for education actually increases money and resources to schools, that students with unique needs receive weighted funding, equity adjustments for our small school districts, increased transparency, and a commision of stakeholders and districts that will continue to refine and analyze different components of the formula and make the process more transparent.
SB 543 finally ensures that every student with unique needs gets additional funding above the statewide established base, the bill also ensures that dollars for weights are used specifically for resources these students need.
However, it’s important to recognize that we are still significantly away from the full adequacy amount recommended by the Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates study. The new formula does not include increased funding for education or set up a plan or commitment to increase funding in the future, which means it will not improve class sizes, lack of resources and academic achievement. Despite some adjustments and guidance from several state studies, the new formula would still not account for the actual costs of educating Nevada students.
By not committing to targets to eventually reach full adequacy, there is no guarantee our students will ever have the resources they need to meet state standards and succeed, we will cause increased hardship to many of our school districts for years to come and we will not responsibly be able to hold our schools accountable for additional resource funding outside of weights. We feel that our legislature can rework portions of the bill to ensure that we don’t harm any students or educators in the transition process and that we advocate for real growth and change by setting a target for adequate funding.
There are still a lot of logistical questions, such as how will we ensure dollars meant for class size reduction, literacy supports, and other programs continue to be used for student supports. If SB 543 is passed, we hope that the next two years during transition allow us to properly weigh our options to ensure the success of the new formula. We hope that moving forward, the operational questions are discussed and decided in an open forum with opportunity for stakeholder input.
We look forward to the process to ensure that the technicalities of the bill and policy properly reflect the demographics, workforce and nuances that make Nevada unique.
Now that we can better identify our dollars and ensure money doesn’t supplant, we are excited to find additional dollars to provide our students with additional resources so they can have the quality education they deserve."
Las Vegas, NV - Today Clark County School District will present its budget for the 2019-2020 school year and confirm what the Fund Our Future Nevada coalition has been saying about school districts statewide - they are not being provided with enough funds to keep up with costs.
CCSD has made clear that that they cannot afford the 3% raises proposed by Governor Steve Sisolak for teachers or the 2% roll-ups without having to make cuts or increase class sizes. Therefore, the District has not included it in its budget as it would prohibit balanced budget. Additionally, CCSD has expressed that the proposed mandates and bills presented during this legislative session would cost the District $800 million.
“Much like CCSD, several other school districts across the state will find it difficult to provide the raises when the additional funding is not provided in the budget,” said, Jen Loescher, from Teach Plus Nevada and a member of the Fund Our Future Nevada coalition. “There seems to be a huge disconnect between the expectations of our schools and the funding they receive. Our class sizes are already beyond the breaking point and our educators continue to do more with less. We can’t afford to drain our schools and their resources any further.”
The proposed state budget for education increases by 1.46 percent for 2019-2020 and 1.06 percent for 2020-2021 and over the last several years it has not kept up with inflation. Nevada also ranks 47th in school funding, has the largest class sizes in the nation and continually receives a failing grade in funding by several national education studies.
“When the budget doesn’t keep up with inflation, schools districts have to make sacrifices to make ends meet, adding additional costs or unfunded mandates just exacerbates the budget challenges.” said Rebecca Garcia, from Nevada PTA, also a member of the Fund Our Future Nevada coalition.
The goal of Fund Our Future Nevada is to develop a new, cost-based funding formula that accounts for evolving demographic changes and appropriately funds the needs of every Nevada student — this includes accounting for the costs of mandates, standards, and other requirements our schools and students face.
“There are a lot of great intentions to improve educational outcomes but we need to ensure we are providing additional funding for those initiatives and programs and ensure they properly support ALL students,” said Educate Nevada Now’s Amanda Morgan, part of the Fund Our Future Nevada.
About: Fund Our Future Nevada is a statewide coalition of parents, educators, school districts, nonprofits and municipalities with the shared goal of fixing Nevada's education funding formula and increasing funds with a system of accountability and transparency. Learn more at www.fundourfuturenv.com
During his State of the State, Governor Steve Sisolak emphasized his commitment to education. Besides supporting the continuation of many educational programs from the prior administration, Gov. Sisolak also announced that he would provide a pay raise for educators, expand SB178, increase funds for school supplies for Read by Grade 3 and for new preschool slots as well as school safety.
Fund Our Future Nevada is excited about our new state leadership and has faith that Gov. Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature will finally support modernizing our outdated 52-year-old funding formula.
However, the proposed education budget or Basic Support Guarantee (BSG) creates a real challenge for districts.The proposed per pupil funding for the 2019/2020 school year of $6,052 and $6,116 for 2020-2021 is only increased by 1.42 percent and 1.06 percent respectively. If the inflation used by the state continues at the estimated 2 percent average, the newly approved budget actually creates a deficit for the second fiscal year.
The education programs that got bolstered support, such as raises for teachers, increased funds for some academically at-risk students, continuation of ZOOM and Victory schools, school safety, and “Read by Grade Three” funds, certainly help improve outcomes for some students. However, with such modest funds appropriated for the base funding school districts will have difficulty keeping up with costs for transportation, books, electives, technology and all other operating costs, it may even lead to hiring freezes, layoffs and even increased class sizes.
The base fund accounts for more than 75 percent of a school budget and is what is used to cover the cover the most critical school operation costs.
The new proposed budget continues the 10-year trend of flat funding that does not keep up with the cost increases all school districts face.
A recent funding study by Augenblick Palaich and Associates found that Nevada only funds its schools at 58% of adequacy. This new budget does not improve those numbers.
Additionally, the new budget continues to supplant the IP1 Room Tax dollars that are supposed to increase education funding but are instead replacing other revenues that are supposed to go into the education budget. That’s close to $400 million in one biennium transferred from the Supplemental School Fund Account into the DSA (the education budget), funds that are not offering additional support to our students or educators. The IP1 taxes were supposed to be new revenues proposed by voters to increase school funding. When increases don’t filter down to the school districts, everyone is shortchanged.
Nevada needs a new education funding formula that addresses critical operating costs (the per pupil or “base” funding), as well as weighted funding to support students with unique needs. Nearly every district is struggling with increasing costs and years of underfunding. Simply redistributing inadequate funds from one district to another shortchanges our students, and will again result in devastating budgets cuts throughout the state’s school districts. Nationally, Nevada ranks near the bottom in funding, and we must commit to improving the elephant in the room: increasing per-pupil funding. The state has already done the work of determining the cost of providing every student with the opportunity to succeed (APA Study), now we must begin moving towards adequate funding for all students. And no student --rural or urban, Northern or Southern — should be harmed in that process.
We know that this legislative session is different and that we can rectify the years of neglect to our school districts’ base funds that support our critical school operations as well as provide weighted funding to support all students with unique needs. Nevada doesn’t have to be at the bottom, we know this is the session we move upward.
After more than 50 years on the job, the Nevada Plan, the state’s education funding formula, announced it is ready to retire.
“At first, my job was fun and I was doing great helping all students, but now I’m just the oldest education funding formula around. I can’t keep up with all those other younger and more modern formulas in other states and it shows,” the Nevada Plan said. “I mean, I was hired the same year Elvis got married, and 40 years later he had a life-tribute Cirque du Soleil show on The Strip — and even that retired.”
Starting back in 1967, the Nevada Plan remembers the time when Nevada was much smaller and looked very different. “Back then, schools didn’t have much in the way of standards, assessments, and all that. It was just about just getting kids into their seats,” the Nevada Plan noted, “Nowadays, folks are a lot more particular about what goes on in the classroom. It’s hard for me to keep up.”
"I love my job and my students, but I can't afford to care for them all anymore — there are so many more students now than when I started! There are more demands on me and I'm stretched so thin. I have to be selective about who I can care for, and that's just not right," the Nevada Plan added.
Nevada is currently ranked among the worst-funded states for education in the country. Coincidentally, in its 50-plus years on the job, the Nevada Plan was routinely overlooked or skipped over for raises and cost of living adjustments.
"Being 48th worst-funded in the nation makes me feel like my work is not valued and neither is educating Nevada's students. I have been struggling to make ends meet for the longest time. How am I supposed to care for 420,000 students? I'm not built for that."
Some legislators aren't eager for the Nevada Plan to retire because they know bringing in a New Plan would mean having to meet current national standards and would require a significant financial investment.
"I'm ready for retirement," the Nevada Plan said. "I can pack up my Beatles 8-track tapes, collect my calculator, slide ruler and ledger pads, and be on my way. The students would do better with a fresh, new plan that considers all of their diverse needs and the current costs of education. I'm not doing them any good here."
Editor's Note: Created in 1967, the Nevada Plan is the oldest funding formula in the country. Many states have modernized their formula several times in the last couple of decades. The Nevada Plan is outdated and doesn’t account for the actual cost of educating students. As a result of its funding mechanisms, new funds intended to supplement education are supplanted instead and don't necessarily increase education funding.. Fund Our Future Nevada is calling on Legislators to retire the Nevada Plan and replace it with a new plan that properly accounts for changing demographics, population growth, and unique needs of students to prepare them to college and career ready upon graduation.
If you support retiring the Nevada Plan for a modernized funding formula that supports ALL Nevada students and provides more resources for our public schools Take The Pledge to Fund Our Future NV.
The Review-Journal’s Tuesday editorial claimed that unions and Democrats are “paving the way for massive tax hikes for schools.”
But anyone who thinks Nevada has been pouring money into education hasn’t been paying attention. We rank at or near the bottom in every metric of education funding, and we still are not even funding schools at pre-recession levels.
How can that be? Don’t we always hear about new taxes for schools — the Commerce tax, room tax and marijuana taxes?
“Nevada legislators told education funding is 58% of ‘adequate’” — that was the headline that topped the Las Vegas Review-Journal after a presentation by education funding experts at a recent Nevada Legislative Committee meeting.
While it was sobering to hear, the study was not surprising as it referenced several other studies in the past that demonstrated that same thing: Nevada does not fund education adequately. Funding “adequately” simply means providing students the funds for necessary resources to achieve and be college- and career-ready.
Key highlights from the Augenblick, Palaich and Associates presentation and report:
A new report by the Clark County teachers union advocates that state lawmakers allow local school districts to raise extra money on their own to support education.
The 22-page paper was released last week by the Clark County Education Association, ahead of the 2019 legislative session. The paper recognizes the progress made in education funding over the last five years, but it says students can’t wait for an overhaul of the state funding system and that steps should be taken now to allow local funding opportunities.
“We believe that local funding should come with strong accountability measures to ensure new revenue is spent on proven intervention strategies to advance student achievement,” the paper says. “And we believe Nevada’s students can’t wait for a lengthy and expensive overhaul of the Nevada Plan.”
The Nevada education community is on the hunt for a magical number.
The mystery number — probably large and most likely unachievable all at once — is the dollar figure that could propel the state’s long-struggling K-12 system to higher ground through better class sizes, resources and programs.
But this search won’t end in a hefty check delivered to each school district with no strings attached. The education funding debate is just as much about the finance formula and classroom expectations as it is about the money. That was a key takeaway of a meeting last week that brought together the movers and shakers of Nevada’s education world.
The average student-to-teacher ratio in Nevada K-12 public schools is 26–1. In many cases the number is much higher. In one post on Fund Our Future’s Facebook page a teacher posted that she had more than 50 students in her middle school beginning orchestra class and described it as “hanging on for dear life.” Sadly, this teacher is not alone. All across Nevada class sizes are getting larger. According to a report by the National Education Association, Nevada’s 26 –1 teacher ratio is already the highest in the nation followed by Arizona and Utah. READ MORE...
Last Thursday, June 21 at the Interim Legislative Committee on Education, Fund Our Future NV coalition members and other parents, teachers and community members came out in full force to advocate for improvements to Nevada’s K-12 funding.
It was inspiring to see a room so full of community members for public comment, especially in the middle of the summer. In fact, there were so many people in line to speak that Education Committee Chair Senator Mo Denis had a firm two-minute rule on public comment. Despite the many issues that were covered, it was clear that education funding is the most pressing. Read More...
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