What happened to equal distribution of funds and services?
Senate Bill (S.B.) 500 (2013 Legislature) created the Task Force on K-12 Public Education Funding. Its purpose is to recommend a plan for funding Nevada’s public schools. A Technical Advisory Committee was also created, consisting of persons who had knowledge, experience or expertise in K-12 public school finance.
Now the recommendations of the Task Force will be on the table for consideration in the upcoming 2015 Legislative Session. Although no actual costs of the recommendations were configured, the Task Force voted to weight English Language Learner students at a minimum of 1.5, at-risk/low income students at a minimum of 1.5 and Students with Disabilities weighted at 2.0. While this can be an effective means to assist students that require extra support, these weights should NOT be considered until more money is put into the “education pie.” If no additional money is added prior to weighting, it could mean taking money from schools that meet less of the weighted criteria and moving it around the state to meet the needs of schools with more students in need. That may not be good news for some of our higher achieving schools, and especially the parents that do their part in contributing extra monies to ensure their children’s schools remain successful. More than ever before, families are asked to contribute funds to keep special interest programs going, and maintain teacher, counselor or specialist employment, all expenses the state or individual school districts can’t cover. When we talk about equitable distribution of funds and services for Nevada’s students, that doesn’t mean we should jeopardize what is already working well.