The 81st Legislative Session will begin February 1, 2021.
ENN K-12 Legislative Priorities
In the midst of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, Nevada faces difficult challenges ahead. Now is the time to change course on the mistakes of our past and make meaningful investments in our future. We must plan to thrive, not just survive. We ask that lawmakers:
Avoid Balancing Budgets on the Backs of Students
K-12 has already endured devastating cuts that will have a lasting impact on students. The state should aim to, at the very least, preserve K-12 funding levels, recognizing that even more resources will be necessary to account for the Covid slide, safe school reopenings, and moving beyond our state’s persistently poor academic outcomes.
Supplement, Not Supplant
Per SB543, all K-12 funds will now go to the State Education Fund. With this added transparency, lawmakers should aim to supplement state funding with temporary federal relief aid (estimated at $470 million for K-12). We must ensure critical resources that support our most vulnerable students are not dependent on temporary funding.
Restore Vital Resources
Lawmakers should aim to restore funding cuts made during the 2020 special session. Many eliminated program dollars are critical for a successful transition to the state’s new Pupil Centered Funding Plan. Restored funding should prioritize students most at risk of falling behind. Again, temporary federal dollars cannot be the solution to addressing ongoing student needs.
Develop a Path Forward
When our economy began to flourish after the 2008 recession, Nevada never restored many of the tax cuts that were implemented. This left meager resources and restricted fiscal flexibility. Nevada residents continue to pay the price. We cannot make the same mistakes – simply cutting budgets rather than developing a path to sustainability. Nevada must create a plan to identify diverse and stable revenue sources to provide students the K-12 opportunities they deserve. We must aim to strive rather than merely survive.
View and download our Legislative Priorities here
Unfortunately, Nevada students:
Have the worst ACT scores in the country – Nevada students are not graduating college-ready.
Are not proficient in core subjects – Less than 50% of Nevada students are proficient in math and reading in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th grade levels based on the state’s own standards. Only 30% of 8th grade students were found to be proficient in math. (Preliminary drop to 11% proficiency post-Covid).
Lack necessary counselors – The state averages only 1 counselor for every 1,000 students. Recommended ratio is 1 to 250. (National Association of School Counselors).
Learn in the largest class sizes in the country – This creates difficult conditions for both students and teachers.
Do not have the essential resources they need – Nevada ranks 48th in per-pupil funding.
Live in a state that chronically ranks as one of the worst in the nation – Nevada education ranks – “F” on Kids Count Report, “F” on National Report Card, 50th in Ed Week Quality Counts Report.
Highlighted Considerations During Legislative Session
Nevada has been among the states hardest hit by the pandemic, and with an expected 12% cuts across all state departments in the coming budget, it is unlikely K-12 funding will be immune to the continuing budget crisis.. Cuts to K-12 should be spared, as it is already reeling from $160 million in cuts made during the special session. Our students continue to suffer from the state’s prolonged failure to meet its constitutional requirement to provide adequate resources that students need to be successful and meet state standards.
This is the first legislative session that meets amid a K-12 funding adequacy lawsuit, Shea v. Nevada. Although the case was filed prior to the most recent funding cuts, the further deterioration of resources and supports tend to strengthen the case that our state needs to do better. At its core, Shea seeks to address the long-term failure to support public education, and it follows in the footsteps of similar education adequacy suits filed throughout the country. For more details about the lawsuit click here.
Commission on School Funding
The Commission on School Funding was established by SB543 (2019), the updated K-12 funding formula known as the Pupil-Centered Funding Plan. The Commission has been meeting for a year and is expected to make recommendations to the legislature to begin to implement the new formula. Expected recommendations include redistribution of funds, recommended weights to support unique needs students, an “optimal” per-pupil funding level, and recommendation on revenue or other methods to reach that funding level within ten years. . For more details about the Commission click here.
2020 Special Session – Cuts
Given that K-12 makes up more than a third of Nevada’s budget, there was likely little chance of education being completely spared from cuts. However, after years of being ranked towards the bottom in per-pupil funding and not having funding restored to pre-2008 recession levels, these cuts will result in a huge setback for our students at a time when they need even more resources.
Major cuts included:
- Class Size Reduction– Loss of $6 million out of $156 million.
- Read By Grade 3– Literacy supports for struggling students. Loss of $31 million, entire appropriation for the 2020 FY.
- Funding For New Nevada Plan SB178– Funds used to support underperforming English Learners and at-risk students who do not attend Victory or ZOOM schools. Loss of $70 million, entire appropriation funding for FY 2020.
- Teacher School Supply Reimbursement– Loss of $4.5 million, entire appropriation.
- School Safety–– Social and mental health workers, school resource officers and facility improvements. Loss of $13 million.
- Teaching Incentives – Loss of $5 million.
- End of Course Exams – Funding needed to carry out end of course exams for high schoolers. Loss of $1 million.
- Gifted and Talented – Funding for gifted students who need additional resources to meet their academic, social and emotional needs. Loss of $5.2 million.
For a detailed summary of cuts and what they mean you can click here.