LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Just minutes before a midnight deadline, Gov. Joe Lombardo signed Senate Bill 503 (SB503) which will fund K-12 for Nevada through 2025. He also signed two school safety bills.

According to a news release from Gov. Lombardo’s office, the education funding bill allocates $12 billion for Nevada students and increases the per-pupil funding next year by $2,500 — a 25% increase. It also gives an additional $23 million to special education funding. The budget also allows more per-pupil funding for at-risk students and English Language Learners.

“I’m honored to sign such historic education legislation this evening,” Lombardo said. “Since day one, my administration has been committed to delivering serious school safety reforms and an education budget that empowers Nevada schools, teachers, and students to succeed. I look forward to continuing to deliver on my administration’s top education priorities in the coming days.”

AB 330, which was also signed, is the governor’s Safer and Supportive Schools Act. It rolls back parts of the restorative discipline bill passed in 2019. AB285 gives school districts more control over procedures for discipline such as when a student can be removed from the class or school.

“This historic investment will provide our schools with the resources they need to foster an environment where every student can thrive and reach their fullest potential. It also provides our district leaders the flexibility to make decisions based on their community’s needs,” said Jhone Ebert, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

AB 330 and AB 285 are similar in that students as young as 8 years old can be expelled if they’re caught with a gun or assault a teacher.

These bills seek to empower teachers allowing them to immediately expel a student for acts of violence.

Marie Niesess, the president of the Clark County Education Association, said the uptick in violence has impacted teachers’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn. 

“We want to ensure that there are systems in place that protect not only just the educator, but the rest of the classroom and the rest of the students,” Niesess said.

According to the Clark County School District’s data, school police seized 32 guns and 204 knives during the 2022/2023 school year.

From the start of the 2022 school year to mid-February, CCSD police made 94 arrests, according to records obtained by 8 News Now. Thirty of the arrests were for battery/assault, 29 were for fights and 23 were for harassment/threats.

“If a student has a behavioral problem that needs to be addressed, whether it’s through mental health professionals, like our counselors or social workers, that should be put in place but we also want to ensure that our students and educators feel safe,” Niesess said.

Nevada lawmakers passed a restorative justice law in 2019 that required schools to adopt certain interventions, such as making students write an apology letter, as a form of discipline rather than suspension or expulsion.

Pushback began against the law among teachers when kids returned to the classroom in 2021 after the coronavirus lockdown, which led to a spike in violent incidents.

“The Clark County School District applauds Gov. Joe Lombardo and the members of the state Legislature for their historic investment in education,” CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara said in a statement to 8 News Now.

Jara added, “These funds will advance K-12 education in Clark County by providing students with the resources they need and funding competitive wages for our employees. We join with Nevada’s leadership united in our focus on accountable outcomes across the education effort.”