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Nevada releases ‘weighted funding’ list for Clark County schools

Updated March 26, 2018 - 7:07 pm

About 100 Clark County schools will benefit from almost $31 million in “weighted funding” for struggling students from the state for the 2018-19 year, officials announced Monday.

That’s nearly the same number of schools served by the program in the current year, though the overall amount going to county schools will decline by nearly $3.5 million.

The program — often referred to as SB 178 for the bill that led to its creation — is in its second year and is targeted at the lowest-performing students statewide. The Legislature approved $36 million each year of the biennium, and schools get $1,200 for each qualifying student

Affected school principals and organizational teams in Clark County will now have a chance to reopen their budgets and make adjustments to plan how they’ll use the money — or plug budget holes if they received money through the program this year but won’t get any next year.

“They’ll be working with our strategic budget teams to adjust their budgets,” district spokeswoman Melinda Malone said Monday.

Under state law, the funding plan doesn’t need to be released until mid-July, which is when last year’s announcement came. But Clark County’s budget timeline — which left some principals creating multiple budget plans to cover different funding scenarios — prompted the state to speed up the release.

“The department recognized how important it is to get this information out as early as possible so that districts can plan and budget accordingly,” State Superintendent of Instruction Steve Canavero said in a statement.

Students are eligible if:

■ They score in the bottom 25 percent on state standardized tests.

■ They qualify for free or reduced lunch under federal guidelines or are defined as English language learners.

■ They attend a school that is not already receiving Victory or Zoom funds for underperforming schools.

Schools who receive the funding must submit a plan on how they spend the money, which also has some stipulations set out by the state. Money can be spent on before or after school programs, tutoring, more staff or professional development for teachers.

“It’s exciting to see,” said state Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, who was the primary sponsor of the weighted funding bill. “These schools are able to get extra teachers, extra resources to help these kids.”

Shifting schools

Statewide, 161 schools will get some type of funding through the program, an increase of 25 schools from the 136 funded now. The bulk of the money goes to elementary schools, 82 of which will receive funding next year.

Clark County will collect the bulk of the money, followed by Washoe County and the charter schools that are part of the State Public Charter School Authority. Twelve of the state’s 17 county school districts will get some type of funding. Douglas, Esmeralda, Eureka, Pershing and Storey county schools won’t be funded.

Out of the 99 schools in Clark County slated to get funding next year, 29 didn’t receive any money through the program this year.

On the flip side, 33 schools that received money in 2017-18 will not get any in 2018-19. At the low end, Lundy Elementary School will lose $6,000. At the higher end, Desert Oasis High School stands to lose $362,400.

That’s because the schools’ performance — based on state testing data from before the program was implemented — has improved too much to qualify, according to officials within the state Department of Education. In other words, the schools are losing the money even before it’s clear whether the money helped.

Denis said he’s aware of the challenge that creates for schools, and he is hoping the Legislature may be able to find some solutions when it reconvenes next year.

“We have the challenge next session to go back and figure out a way to continue to help them,” he said. “If they go from a one star to a three star or maybe a two star to a four star, are they then going to slide backward because they don’t get that extra help to continue to help those kids?”

Contact Meghin Delaney at 703-383-0281 or mdelaney@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

A previous version of this article misstated how much weighted funding Desert Oasis High School will lose this year under the state’s weighted funding formula.

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