It’s hard to believe it’s been one month since the launch of the Fund Our Future Nevada coalition to advocate on behalf of our students and their need for better funded public schools.
Since then we’ve had a lot of traction on our website, FundOurFutureNV.com, several members of the community have signed the pledge for support and we’ve received many inquiries about our campaign and interest in being a part of the coalition. We want to thank you for taking the pledge to support increased funding. If you signed up to receive the newsletter we will update you periodically on our efforts, on new and relevant information and education funding proposals.
For the first newsletter we want to elaborate on our initial proposals.
“All students deserve appropriate resources to reach their full academic potential and graduate to be college and career ready".
What we mean: Recently the state has made great investments in education to address the needs of at-risk students via Victory and ZOOM schools and the Read by Grade 3 program. Unfortunately the state has not dedicated enough funds to provide those resources to all at-risk students, English language learners or to cover the needs of special education students or gifted and talented students. We appreciate our legislators' work to find additional funds. However, rather than identifying how much money is sufficient to fund results-driven resources, our current system of partial funding of programs is inadequate and doesn't fulfill a strategy for serving the needs of Nevada's students.
Our students deserve
"A new funding formula formula that accounts for evolving demographic changes and that appropriately funds the needs of every Nevada student."
The current K-12 funding formula, The Nevada Plan, has not been modified since its inception in 1967, and does not account for our growing special needs student population or our at-risk, English language learners or gifted and talented students. Right now the funding formula provides the same amount for every student, but the students mentioned above cost more to educate and to reach their potential. We recommend a weighted funding formula that identifies how much those classified students need above the base per-pupil funding and include that in the funding distribution.
"Lawmakers who respect and reflect the will of taxpayers and voters by using new revenue sources, such as the Marijuana Tax and Room Tax, to increase public education funding rather than to fill budget holes in other areas."
IP1 Room Tax: In 2009 the legislature approved the IP1 Room Tax also known as the “Save our Schools” initiative proposed by voters for a 3 percent room tax to be used specifically to increase funds for teacher recruitment and retention and student achievement programs.
These new revenues were to increase the base funding and not supplant the funding, meaning that if the IP1 room tax brought in $1 million, for example, there should be $1 million more in education funds without it having an impact on the amount of other education revenue sources. However, because Nevada was still recovering from the recession, the legislature voted to use those funds to fill budget holes in the general fund instead. The legislature has diverted these funds every legislative session since 2009 even though the economy has improved. Since 2011 a total of $1.2 billion from the Room Tax have not been used to increase education dollars to support our students and educators as advertised.
Marijuana Tax: During the 2017 session legislators diverted some of the Marijuana Tax dollars advertised as an increase for education to the state rainy day fund instead. That’s a projected $60 million in retail taxes that should be going to education.
It’s hard to argue against people that say that a tax increase has not produced results when in fact those tax revenues never increased education funds. It’s time we hold our legislators accountable and put those dollars to work for their intended purposes instead of balancing budgets off the backs of our students.
"Increased funds that come with accountability, stability and resources to ensure a Return on the Investment in our students and their academic success."
We agree that any additional funds for education need to come with accountability to ensure results. We recently had an increase of funds to support Victory and ZOOM schools, the Read by Grade 3 program and SB 178 dollars for at-risk students. While very helpful and although they’ve produced results, we must keep in mind that they only make up 5 percent of the budget and don’t go to every qualifying student. These programs are not reliable because they have to be reapproved every legislative session. If Nevada has a change in government leadership these programs could go away altogether, so we are asking for a permanent solution to address the needs of at-risk, special education and gifted and talented students. We are also requesting that enough resources for base funding are provided to appropriately serve the majority of Nevada students.
There is still much to do as we continue to work with our partners and prepare to unveil our policy proposals to address the many challenging factors that will ensure a quality education for all Nevada students. As we move along the process we will look for feedback from more students, parents, teachers, principals and other community members to ensure we understand the various challenges and are discussing the right solutions for all Nevadans. Meanwhile you can learn more by visiting www.fundourfuturenv.com.