Education funding will be one of the major topics heavily discussed during the 2019 legislative session. Educators have long called for a change in how schools are funded, and on Tuesday, the Legislature’s Budget Committees got an update on school funding as the governor has called for an increase in funding.
The complex formula made up of local, state and federal revenue streams that pay for Nevada’s k-12 public schools is called the Nevada Plan, and it dates back to 1967, which is more than 50 years.
Efforts to change that over the years finally gained traction in the past few years as former Governor Brian Sandoval, R-NV, and lawmakers implemented a weighted funding formula that is part of a “New Nevada Plan.”
This is one area where the Clark County Education Association, the local teachers’ union, and the Clark County School District have a lot of common ground.
Right now, the amount of money that goes to fund education breaks down to roughly $5,900 per student.
The legislature has been giving schools more money, but CCSD and others argue that much of that money is tied to specific programs or services the state mandates that the districts provide.
The weighted funding formula is an attempt to get money to follow students to where its needed the most.
Under the plan, English language learners bring more money for their schools, and that, along with Victory and Zoom schools saw $36 million in increased funding over the past two years.
Governor Sisolak, D-NV, wants to roughly double that for the next two years to include additional funding for at-risk children.
Clark County Education Association Executive Director John Vellardita says it’s just a start because completely changing school funding to that model will take years.
“It’s not a light switch, but we need a bridge, we need a transition plan, we haven’t seen it yet; we’re hoping to see it, we’re going to advocate for it, we’re certainly not out there sloganeering, saying let’s find a billion dollars when nobody else is talking about that,” Vellardita said.
That billion dollars is the roughly $1.2 billion state officials estimate it would cost in additional funding to implement a weighted funding formula that replaces the current funding model.
It’s a significant shift because that $1.2 billion is roughly the same as what the state currently pays to its schools every year.