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Gov. Sisolak donating his salary to Nevada’s high-poverty schools

Updated April 24, 2019 - 1:01 pm

Gov. Steve Sisolak will donate his salary to high-poverty schools across the state, fulfilling his campaign promise to give his earnings to charity until public education improves in Nevada.

Sisolak’s office said on Wednesday that he will give his net salary for each fiscal quarter in his four-year term to Title I schools — those that have a high percentage of students in poverty.

The money — $24,654 in the first quarter and three other installments this year that may vary slightly in amount — will be placed in a separate bank account, the office said.

By the end of his term, every Title 1 school will receive $1,000, Sisolak wrote in a letter to the Department of Education. Any remaining funds will be distributed evenly to all of the 416 such schools in the state.

“I asked the people of Nevada for the chance to lead this state for many reasons, chief among them being the opportunity to improve educational outcomes for every child in every classroom in the state,” Sisolak said in a statement.“To show my commitment to this goal, the first lady and I are donating my net state salary back to public education.”

Education stakeholders have called on legislators to overhaul the state’s school funding formula, provide raises for educators and adequately fund public schools during the ongoing legislative session.

But so far, legislators still have not unveiled a bill expected to change the way Nevada funds education.

And despite factoring in a 3 percent increase for school employees in the governor’s proposed budget, districts are already projecting deficits for next school year.

The Washoe County School District has projected a $17.8 million deficit for the 2019-20 school year. Churchill County schools have also projected a deficit, according to the Nevada Appeal.

In Clark County, district officials are at odds with the numbers outlined in the governor’s proposal for a salary increase — saying that the extra money is not enough to cover the proposed raises. The district estimates it would receive $55 million to $70 million in additional funding under Sisolak’s plan, but claims it would need roughly $100 million more to cover the raises.

The district nevertheless expressed gratitude for Sisolak’s announcement on Wednesday.

“The Clark County School District thanks Gov. Steve Sisolak for donating his salary to our schools that serve some of our neediest students, who have been historically under-served and under-resourced,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The Washoe district said in a statement that it appreciates the governor’s dedication to public education.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the governor and state lawmakers to support Nevada students as we prepare them for the world and workplaces of the 21st century,” the statement read.

The Clark County Education Association, which represents teachers, said in a statement that the move highlights the need for more funding in schools now.

“We look forward to working closely with the governor to fulfill the rest of his commitments to public education in our state so that our educators are paid the salaries they deserve, and that our students have the resources they need to learn,” the association said.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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