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EDITORIAL: As students flee, CCSD’s budget soars

How much does the Clark County School District receive per student? What are the implications of a number like $7,000 per student? If a teacher has 25 students in her class, that would be $175,000 in funding. Even with the recent pay increase, teachers don’t make enough to account for all that.

The real per-pupil funding level is much, much higher. At a School Board meeting this month, Jason Goudie, the district’s chief financial officer, presented an overview of the budget. That included the district’s historical per-pupil revenues for the general operating fund. His presentation showed the district received $6,655 per child in 2015. In the current school year, it’s a whopping $11,550 per student. That’s a more than 70 percent increase in a decade.

Even the soaring inflation under President Joe Biden can’t account for the massive increase. The figure also doesn’t include major categories of funding, such as COVID money and capital expenditures.

That classroom of 25 students represents more than $285,000 in operating funding. Some of that money is restricted to provide certain services, but not most of it. The amount taxpayers cover per student will be higher next year. The tentative budget anticipates revenues of $12,030 per pupil.

For decades, the education establishment has demanded large budge increases. Defenders of the status quo claimed that Nevada’s lackluster education results was primarily the result of the state’s stingy taxpayers.

The district is now swimming in money. But the problems remain — and, in many ways, are worse. The district’s desire to water down discipline policies in the name of “equity” led officials to discourage suspensions and expulsions. School violence soared, endangering students and teachers. It’s hard for students to learn when their classmates are openly disruptive. The move also contributed to the district’s ongoing teacher shortage. The district struggles to retain new hires. Many teachers reconsider when they’re sent into classrooms that merit hazardous duty pay.

Little surprise that district achievement remains abysmal. For instance, dozens of schools have math proficiency rates under 10 percent.

Parents and families understand the situation. If the district were improving, it would be growing, as is Clark County. It’s not. District enrollment peaked at nearly 322,000 in the 2017-18 school year. Next year, it’s anticipated to be under 290,000. It hasn’t been so low since the 2004-05 school year.

Hefty district budget increases have yet to produce results. But they have succeeded in making mediocrity and failure more expensive.

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