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Nevada legislators told education funding is 58% of ‘adequate’

Updated August 9, 2018 - 7:36 pm

To adequately fund education, Nevada should be spending $9,238 per student.

That’s the recommendation of a new study commissioned by the Legislature between sessions and presented Thursday during an interim committee meeting on education.

The study also recommended Nevada fully implement a weighted funding system, meaning students with specific needs should be financially supported at a higher level than the base amount.

Right now, the state uses a base figure of $5,387 per student when doling out funding, which is 58 percent of the recommended level according to the study.

The report did not say how much it would cost to move Nevada to the higher base figure and implement the weighted funding, but just moving the base to the recommended level would require more than $1.7 billion, according to Review-Journal calculations.

It’s unlikely the state can move immediately to the recommended rate, acknowledged Amanda Brown, a consultant with Augenblick, Palaich and Associates who presented the study. But the recommendation can “be used as a target over time,” she said.

On top of the base funding, the study recommends at-risk students should be supported with an additional $2,771, which is 30 percent higher than the recommended base funding. Students who are English language learners should be an additional 50 percent, or $4,619 above base. And special education students should should get an additional $10,612, nearly 115 percent above base, according to the study.

Brown presented an alternative scenario after studying spending at nine “successful” schools in Nevada. That per pupil funding figure is $5,988, and may be an easier base figure to move toward in the near term, she said.

State Superintendent Steve Canavero said he supports implementing a new funding formula, but said there needs to be time to transition, and that increasing the base funding should come with accountability.

“The base funding that we have as a state should be linked to very specific expectations we have for our classrooms,” he said.

The interim committee took no action on the study, but state Sen. Mo Denis, D-North Las Vegas, who chairs the committee, said the report gives the committee ideas to move forward.

Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281 or mdelaney@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

A previous version of this article misstated the percentage increase recommended by the study.

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