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.
Teachers and parents shared their stories of challenges related to funding, HOPE’s Vice President Caryne Shea detailed the challenges felt in various districts due to budget shortfalls. Educate Nevada Now Legal Director, Amanda Morgan introduced the coalition’s request for consideration, recommending lawmakers:
Consider a cost-based school funding formula that determines funding levels based on the actual cost of educating Nevada students. This is done by costing-out resources that have a proven, evidence-based impact on student achievement - while also taking into account each district’s unique demographics and characteristics. Nevada’s current formula, known as the Nevada Plan bears no relation to the actual cost of educating students as evidenced by its funding level being grossly below the state’s own cost studies.
Supplement not supplant. Ensure that new funds meant for education, like the marijuana and room taxes, actually increase education funds. When new revenue is added to the state budget, the per pupil dollars remain flat. That’s because new funds replace other tax dollars which are then diverted to other budgets, like a bucket full of holes.
Implement appropriate accountability measures to ensure districts are using funds in evidence-based ways that improve student achievement. With a new funding formula based on actual cost, Nevada should coordinate its accountability structure with its funding system.
Click here to read the entire proposal.
Click here to read great coverage of the meeting from LVRJ’s Meghin Delaney that also highlights the momentum of the Fund Our Future NV coalition.
Education in Depth
If you haven’t already, make sure you catch Stars and Struggles, a five-part series from The Nevada Independent reporter Jackie Valley highlighting a year of being embedded at Sunrise Acres Elementary School, an urban low-income school in central Las Vegas.
The Nevada Independent has released the first four parts, and we are looking forward to the final story in the series.
So far the series touches on the extra challenges students and teachers face in areas where students have a high transiency rate and face instability at home. It also demonstrates how difficult it is for high-poverty schools to maintain long-term teachers, as there are no additional incentives for them, and they are evaluated the same as all teachers despite their higher burdens. Sunrise Acres, which went from a two-star school to a four-star school, also lost funding from Class Size Reduction because they don’t qualify as a priority due to their improved status. To them and many other schools in similar situations, this feels like getting punished for improving. After additional cuts from CCSD’s $68 million shortfall, the school is now using its Victory School Funds, provided for achievement resources, just to stay afloat.
These examples, which we know happen in schools throughout the state, highlight the importance of increased education funding to ensure we can address teacher vacancies and have the funds to ensure programs for student success are permanent and appropriate. Reading these stories have given us at the Fund Our Future coalition a greater affirmation as to why we advocate so strongly for increased funding to provide all our students with the resources and opportunities to succeed.
We thank you for advocating with us!