"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
Las Vegas - Nevada has the largest student-to-teacher ratio in the nation for the second year in a row, according to the 2018 National Education Association Rankings and Statistics(NEA).
With 25.86 average students per teacher (some classrooms more than twice as large) Nevada has the largest classrooms in the nation, followed by Arizona and Utah. Based on past reports from the NEA, the average class size in Nevada has increased by seven students in just three years straining the workload of our educators.
“With such large class sizes and uncertainty about pay raises and resources it’s no wonder our teachers are so stressed,” said Michelle Booth, Communications Director at Educate Nevada Now. “We keep saying we care about our students and teachers but statistics like this say otherwise.”
The report comes on the heels of the Clark County School District announcing budget cuts that will likely lead to even larger class sizes.
In addition, when accounting for salary per classroom per pupil, Nevada teachers are the third-worst paid in the nation.
Other rankings of note from the report:
“The State recently dedicated additional dollars for education, but those funds were restricted and could not be used for expenses like teacher salaries. It’s time we fund the base so that our schools can keep up with operating expenses and focus on student achievement,” said Caryne Shea, Vice President of HOPE For Nevada
Teachers, parents, and students are you aware of any extremely large class sizes? Tell us about it, we want to hear your stories. Email us at: email@example.com
Statewide coalition asks Nevada legislators to restore the Room Tax revenues meant for teacher recruitment and retention
Las Vegas - In light of recent educator protests in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kentucky, coupled with the funding challenges for our own teachers, Fund Our Future Nevada is calling on its legislators to restore the Room Tax revenue that rightfully belongs to our educators.
“Our teachers and gaming leaders advocated for this new tax to help retain and recruit teachers, but thanks to our legislators, this new tax has never directly benefited our teachers,” said Amanda Morgan, Legal Director at Education Nevada Now.
Known as the “Save Our Schools” Initiative, the IP1 Room Tax is a 3 percent room tax increase, promising to boost funding for Nevada’s K-12 public schools and help attract and retain teachers. To ensure IP1 actually increases public school funding, the law states that monies “supplement and not replace other money appropriated to fund K-12 public schools.”
However, since 2011 when IP1’s funds were to be distributed to all school districts, the legislature has instead used the funds to fill budget holes — a $1.2 billion total loss for students and teachers.
Click here Las Vegas - Once again Nevada was given an “F” in school finance proving it ranks among the most unfair to students according to the 2018 National Report Card released this week by the Education Law Center and Rutgers School of Education.
"We continue to rank in the bottom for K-12 funding while our students and teachers continue to be asked to go for so long with so little. It’s no wonder we are not performing well academically", said Jenn Blackhurst, president of HOPE for Nevada. "This is why we started the Fund Our Future coalition, to demonstrate that Nevada's communities are united in an effort to stop shortchanging our students and provide them with the resources they deserve."
Earlier this month, HOPE for Nevada, in partnership with Educate Nevada Now and teachers, students and education advocates throughout the entire state launched the Fund Our Future Nevada coalition to campaign for increased funds for Nevada’s K-12 schools.
Other notable findings from the report highlight Nevada’s failure to fund in categories that include fiscal effort, funding distribution and funding levels.
The National Report Card uses data from the 2015 Census fiscal survey, the most recent available.
“Nevada has been bouncing back successfully since the recession in job growth, real estate, tourism and gross domestic product, it’s time we shift our focus on ensuring the same level of progress for our students,” said Sylvia Lazos, policy director for Educate Nevada Now (powered by The Rogers Foundation).
Nevada did perform well in the Coverage category which measures the share of school-aged children enrolled in public schools compared to private schools.
“The NRC released today is a sobering reminder of why unfair school funding is the most significant obstacle to improving outcomes for our nation’s public school students,” said David Sciarra, Education Law Center Executive Director and report co-author in a press release. “The stark reality is most states still fund their public schools based on pure politics, not on the cost of delivering quality education to all students.”
Las Vegas, NV - Parents, students, teachers and education advocates from various parts of Nevada gathered yesterday at Tomiyasu elementary school to announce the Fund Our Future Nevada coalition and campaign to lobby for increased funds for Nevada’s K-12 system.
“Nevada remains one of the lowest funded states for education in the nation and our students are suffering as a result. It’s time we recognize that we have to increase funding for our schools,” said Educate Nevada Now Legal Director, Sylvia Lazos.
Students and teachers from Clark and Washoe discussed the challenges of limited resources and the large class sizes that don’t allow for individualized attention.
“As student body president, I consistently see budgets in schools being slashed, and although Nevada business is booming, once again our schools remain isolated and forgotten in the shadows,” said Palo Verde High School student, Connor Leeming.
Paul Johnson, the CFO for White Pine County expressed the difficulties rural school districts face and the uncertainty the new categorical funds present.
“We are grateful for the new funds but the fact that they have to be approved every legislative session makes it difficult to recruit teachers to move to our districts when they are funded through programs that aren’t guaranteed past two years,” he said.
Members of the coalition advocated for an increase to the base funding that pays for transportation, textbooks, school maintenance, salaries and other operating expenses.
“When adjusted for inflation the base funding for our education system has remained flat for the last ten years even while costs have increased,” said Lazos.
“It’s hard to blame the budget shortfalls on mismanagement when we see that many of our school districts are struggling,” said former first lady Sandy Miller.
The coalition also highlighted the $1.2 billion from the 2009 Room Tax meant to increase education funds that legislators have instead shifted to fill budget holes, along with the retail tax from marijuana sales that was allocated to the state’s rainy day fund.
“It’s so frustrating for me to hear people complain about our public education and say, ‘We’ve given them money and they haven’t been able to make improvements.’ When in fact that money hasn’t been used as the voters intended,” said Jenn Blackhurst president of HOPE for Nevada parent advocacy group.
Coalition members will continue to educate the community about the need for increased funds for schools and advocate to prioritize this issue during the next legislative session.
For more information and to sign the pledge to support the demand for increased K-12 funds visit www.FundOurFutureNV.com.
To support the campaign on social media use #FundOurFutureNV
In the News
Read our blog posts, Op-eds and relevant news about K-12 funding in Nevada.