"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."
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