Posts Tagged ‘Clark County School District’

Sandoval Announces Education Grant Agreement

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:29 pm November 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval announced today that the Clark County School District’s  $40 million Race to the Top grant application will move forward with the support of the Clark County Education Association.

“I was informed this morning that the Clark County School District and the Clark County Education Association have signed the Race to the Top letter,” Sandoval said in a statement. “I am pleased that by working together, leaders of education in Clark County were able to agree to get this done for our children. I look forward to continuing to work with all parties to improve education in our state.”

Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones said: “The district is pleased that this issue has been resolved and that we were able to move forward today with our application for the Race to the Top grant.

Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones.

“If awarded to the Clark County School District, this grant will provide individualized instruction that will drastically improve the educational experience for our students,” he said. “The district welcomed suggestions from the Clark County Education Association regarding the application and remains committed to competing for these much-needed funds to help increase achievement for our children. Thank you to Governor Sandoval for brokering this agreement.”

CCEA President Ruben Murillo said: “CCEA is pleased to join Governor Sandoval and the school district in the application for the Race to the Top funds. Teachers look forward to a successful partnership in ensuring our students’ needs are met.”

Earlier this week Sandoval said he was disappointed that the grant would not move forward after the association declined to sign off on the application. The deadline was today to submit the grant request to the U.S. Department of Education.

Las Vegas news media reported Tuesday that the district’s application for a share of the $400 million in Race to the Top funds was derailed by the lack of support from the union, which has been at odds with the district over pay and benefits.

Sandoval Disappointed At Teachers Union For Blocking Grant Request

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:18 pm October 31st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he is disappointed by the leadership of the Clark County Education Association for blocking a $40 million school district application for federal Race to the Top funds.

“The Race to the Top federal grant can be used to hire additional teachers and provide much-needed support to some of our most at-risk students,” Sandoval said in a statement. “I am particularly supportive of the district’s plan to use technology and early-intervention strategies to help the district’s growing number of English language learners catch up to their peers faster.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Sandoval said he had a discussion with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan today, and was advised that the deadline for Race to the Top grant applications has been extended until Friday.

“It is important we take advantage of every opportunity to provide much-needed relief to our schools and our children and I urge the Clark County Education Association to reconsider its position and work with the School District on Clark County’s application,” he said. “If necessary, I will personally meet with CCEA and the school district to get this done for our children.”

Las Vegas news media, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reported Tuesday that the Clark County School District’s application for a share of the $400 million in Race to the Top funds was derailed by the lack of support from the union, which has been at odds with the district over pay and benefits.


Lawmakers Endorse New Weighted Funding Formula For Public Education, Specifics To Come Later

By Sean Whaley | 1:59 pm August 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers today recommended that Nevada’s public education funding formula be revised to take into account the higher cost of educating specific groups of students, including English-language learners and children in poverty.

But lawmakers also acknowledged that updating the formula won’t mean any significant changes in funding for the state’s 17 school districts until the state’s economy improves and tax revenues increase.

There is no proposal to shift current funding from one district to another to fund a new weighted formula.

The New Method for Funding Public Schools interim study was authorized by the 2011 Legislature to look at the “Nevada Plan” the current funding formula adopted in 1967. The Clark County School District sought the review to look at whether the state’s education funding plan needs to include additional funding for educating specific groups of students.

The six lawmakers serving on the panel supported the recommendation to revise the formula, which will be presented to the Legislature when the 2013 session gets under way.

But lawmakers deferred to the Department of Education the technical details of which groups should be included and how the different categories of students should be weighted in any new funding formula. Other groups that could be included in a weighted formula are gifted and talented and career and technical education, among others.

“The committee, I think, could find quick and unanimous support for the recommendation that we as a state consider changing our K-12 funding formula to one that considers a variety of different weights, including but not limited to; and then a comprehensive list,” said Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. “That tees up the issue then for the next session. It tells the Legislature as a whole that this committee did its job, it studied the issue and it decided it was worthy of legislative consideration.”

The recommendation came after the Clark County School District provided $125,000 to the legislative panel to hire a consultant to study the issue. The consultant, American Institutes for Research, issued a final report which found in part: “As low‐income students and English learners are widely accepted in the mainstream education finance literature to be associated with higher educational costs, it is our strong recommendation that funding adjustments be incorporated into the current funding system to account for these student need cost factors.”

The report found that Nevada is not in line with most other states on funding, being one of 14 states that does not adjust funding for low-income students and one of eight that does not account for the cost of English learners.

“I think what we’ve learned is that the 1967 formula is no longer adequate,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks. “I think everybody on this committee agrees with that. It doesn’t meet the needs that it was originally intended to do.”


Audio Clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says lawmakers agree the funding formula needs to be changed:

082812Brower1 :22 a comprehensive list.”

Brower says the details can be worked out in the coming weeks and months:

082812Brower2 :26 just the opposite.”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen says the review has shown that the Nevada Plan is no longer adequate to fund public education:

082812Hansen :27 categories should be.”


Lawmaker Review Of 45-Year-Old Nevada Public Education Funding Plan Hits Financial Roadblock

By Sean Whaley | 2:23 pm January 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers today began a review of the state’s 45-year-old formula for funding public education with an eye towards addressing the needs of the state’s urban districts as they work to educate special education students, English-language learners and children in poverty.

The panel is still searching for funding for a study to help in the review, however. The failure to find private funding for a study could jeopardize any meaningful review in this interim, lawmakers were told.

Nevada public education funding formula study hits financial roadblock.

The panel decided to give the Clark County School District, which advocated for the review in the 2011 legislative session, until Feb. 21 to identify a minimum of $125,000 in private funding to perform the necessary study. The panel would then meet again on Feb. 28 if the funding is secured.

The New Method for Funding Public Schools interim study was authorized by the 2011 Legislature to look at the “Nevada Plan” the current funding formula adopted in 1967.

“As we know over the past several decades since the Nevada Plan was developed and adopted, our state has grown and changed significantly,” said Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, the chairman of the panel. “A periodic review of the state’s funding methodology for public schools is necessary to ensure that the funding methodology accomplishes what it was originally designed to do  - which was to ensure an adequate educational opportunity for all Nevada students regardless of individual school district wealth.”

Following a review of the Nevada Plan, the panel can then determine if inadequacies or inequities exist, he said.

“Then we can develop any recommendations for improvement, if necessary, to ensure that the state’s public school funding methodology equitably considers the individual needs and characteristics of Nevada’s public school student population,” Conklin said.

Joyce Haldeman, associate superintendent of community and government relations with the Clark County School District, said there is no intention with the review to take away funding from other school districts.

Instead, the state’s largest school district would like to see additional factors given weight in the formula, including English language learners, special education students, gifted and talented and students receiving free- and reduced lunches, she said.

The study is the result of Senate Bill 11 sought by the Clark County School District to consider a weighted enrollment formula to take into account the different educational needs of children in the larger districts.

Craig Stevens, director of government relations for the Nevada State Education Association, spoke in support of the study.

“Our state is simply too diverse and the needs are too specialized to have a flat rate just for every single child,” he said. “It really not only hurts those that need the specialization but those that do not as well. We fully support making sure that funds are differentiated so that the student gets the services that they need in order to be fully successful.”

Several parents from Clark County also expressed support for the study, saying the funding formula needs revision because it shortchanges the district.

But Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, a member of the panel, asked for justification for the review, noting a 2007 study by lawmakers identified no inequities in the Nevada Plan.

After spending nearly $250,000, the conclusion was that the Nevada Plan was highly equitable, he said.

“Now what’s changed between 2007 and today?” Hansen asked.

The committee debated how overarching any funding formula review should be, given that no money was allocated for a study. The consensus was that a narrow review, focusing on several key student populations, would be the most practical approach if funding is secured.

The Clark County School District had anticipated $125,000 in funding from a foundation to pay for a study, but the district learned the money will not be forthcoming, Haldeman told the panel. The district is looking for other funding sources, she said.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank, weighed in on the Nevada Plan in September 2011, noting that many people, including policy makers, are either confused or deliberately misleading on the issue of per pupil funding in the public schools.

The analysis suggested that when all sources of funding are included in per pupil expenditures, the dollars spent are much higher than are reported by the districts.


Audio clips:

Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, says the study is needed to ensure an adequate educational opportunity for all students:

012412Conklin1 :23 school district wealth.”

Conklin says once there is an understanding of the Nevada Plan, the panel can consider the need for any changes:

012412Conklin2 :27 school student population.”

Craig Stevens, director of government relations for the Nevada State Education Association, says the study is much needed:

012412Stevens :23 be fully successful.”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, says the issue was studied in 2007 and no inequities were found:

012412Hansen :25 2007 and today.”


Clark and Washoe County School Districts Could Increase Class Sizes By Five Students Per Class

By Andrew Doughman | 10:49 am March 24th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s two largest school districts could increase classes sizes by five students during the upcoming school year.

Superintendents from Clark and Washoe Counties said they would put more children in classrooms to address Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget cuts.

Those budget cuts could result in hundreds of school district positions eliminated in Washoe County and 2,486 positions in Clark County.

The class-size increases were part of budget plans superintendents presented to a legislative committee this morning.

“That’s an alarming cumulative impact put together,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford. “… It really is significant.”

In Clark County, Superintendent Dwight Jones said he plans to increase class sizes by up to seven students for higher grades and by three students at the lower grades.

He said this would mean a jump from 18 students per class to 21 students per class for first-graders. For grades six through 12, the average class size could increase from 32 students per class to 39 students per class.

Jones estimated that this shift would save the district $114 million, part of a total budget reduction of $411 million.

In Washoe County, Morrison said he plans to increase class sizes by five to meet the governor’s proposed cuts. This would save the district about $30 million.

He said putting one more student in each class saves the school district $6 million.

Increasing class sizes would also mean jobs for teachers would go away. More students would be in fewer classes, meaning the district would need fewer teachers as well.

Morrison said he is having a difficult time accommodating the budget cuts.

“They’re going to stymie efforts to build capacity for our teachers to deliver the important instruction that they do on a day to day basis,” he said.

Assembly Democrats today argued that the governor’s proposed cuts to K-12 are $1.1 billion. They posted to their website an interpretation of those cuts that includes about $600 million that school districts must negotiate with their employees.

The level of actual cuts could change depending on the results of those negotiations.

The governor has earlier said the cuts would amount to about $625 million.

The announcement also comes as former governor Bob Miller asked the Legislature to not increase class sizes in a letter published in today’s Las Vegas Sun.

Miller was the architect of the class-size reduction program when he was governor.



Governor’s Budget Could Add Another Pay Cut For Teachers

By Andrew Doughman | 8:28 am March 7th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Teachers could forfeit portions of their salaries awarded for obtaining masters of doctorate degrees under a new proposal.

In what could amount to a pay cut, Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed eliminating that type of compensation in favor of $20 million in performance pay.

Sandoval called the current system “costly” in his State of the State address during January. During the speech, he cited Bill Gates, who last year argued that paying teachers for advanced degrees does not help students learn more.

But Sandoval’s proposal is not just a policy change.

According to several estimates, teachers in Nevada collectively earn more than $100 million for their advanced degrees.

“Twenty million dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to what we pay for master’s degrees,” said Joyce Haldeman of the Clark County School District.

Sandoval’s $20 million proposal would mean teachers compete for a smaller pot of money.

“We must live with current realities,” Sandoval said during his State of the State address. “Pay-for-performance is still included in my budget, just on a different scale.”

Dale Erquiaga, the governor’s senior adviser, said last Thursday that the governor has included the removal of pay for advanced degrees in the dozens of budget bills Sandoval recently submitted.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said the proposal could mean another cut for teachers just as teachers take a 5 percent pay cut and pay an increased amount of their salaries into retirement plans. She also said the change would derail what teachers had regarded as a reliable track toward higher pay in the future.

“You are dismantling a whole culture in the teacher pay system,” Smith said. “It is a big decision point.”

Haldeman said that she would support moving the school district from paying for educational attainment to paying for performance.

“Maybe it’s time to try something new,” she said. “I just want to make sure that the funding stays.”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, is on the Assembly’s education committee. He said he would also support a policy change.

“I don’t care if you got a degree from Oxford; if you’re a lousy teacher, you’re a lousy teacher,” he said. “When you’re 50th in the nation and you’ve got no money, you’ve got to do something really innovative.”

Legislative legal staff are still working on drafting the bills, so the exact effects of the governor’s bills are unclear.

But Erquiaga said that the governor’s proposal would try to prohibit school districts from explicitly paying teachers for educational attainment.

This is the same way the governor plans to cut teacher pay by 5 percent.

Teachers and school districts bargain a contract separately from the state government. So they could still sign a contract that excludes a pay cut, but the state would have given school districts 5 percent less. The school districts would then not have the money to pay teachers even as they have a contractual obligation to do so.

The governor’s budget bills should be available to read soon.

Governor’s Budget Juggling Results In Less Money For Emergency Repairs At Schools

By Andrew Doughman | 7:14 pm March 3rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – The governor has proposed taking funds school districts are using for emergency repairs to help balance the state budget.

School districts have said this would leave them with little money to fix broken boilers and leaky roofs or perform other emergency repairs.

“We don’t have any money set aside right now to cover those expenses if the governor’s proposal moves forward,” said Craig Hulse from the Washoe County School District before a Senate committee reviewing the governor’s proposal.

The revision to the governor’s budget comes after a meeting between the governor’s staff and school district officials yesterday.

The proposal shifts $319 million from the districts’ debt-service funds to the districts’ operating funds, which is the main account used to fund the operation of schools.

This, however, involves dipping into the bucket of money that school districts use for emergency repairs.

Sen. Michael Schneider, D-Las Vegas, said this was a bad idea. He said that some of the schools in his district have portables that are in “horrible shape.” He called them “rat traps.”

“My message to the governor’s staff is: find some other way to balance your budget,” he said to Andrew Clinger, the governor’s budget director.

A month ago, the governor had tried to balanced his budget another way. Gov. Brian Sandoval had initially proposed letting school districts keep a six-month reserve rather than a 12-month reserve to pay off bonds. This would free up $425 million for school district operating costs.

But school districts later told the Legislature that it could not pay $425 million.

So Clinger brought back a revised proposal.

It is that new proposal that shifts money out of school districts’ emergency repair funds.

Those funds comes from the Governmental Services Tax fund that school districts collect. In the Clark County School District, this equates to a shift of $20 million per year out of that fund.

That would leave $5 million per year for emergency repairs.

The state would shovel its share into the districts’ debt service fund.

The governor’s proposal means juggling money from one account to another. The governor would instruct the school districts to pay for the operating costs of schools with their debt-service fund, then to pay for debt-service with their emergency repair fund. This leaves a shortfall in the emergency repair fund.

Proposal punches $106 million hole in budget

The proposal also leaves the governor $106 million short in his budget, one that Clinger said will not go away until May.

Sandoval had originally planned of using $425 million from the districts’ debt-service funds to pay for schools.

Since his staff has trimmed those prospects to $319 million, that leaves a $106 million gap between the money available and the money that governor wants to spend for his budget.

Clinger reassured legislators that a revenue forecast in May would show increases that would lower that $106 million shortfall.

He is betting on promising sales tax returns as well as a proposal from President Barack Obama to defer interest payments on federal loans Nevada has used to pay unemployment insurance benefits.

That is an extra $66 million that could be added back into the budget to reduce the $106 million gap.

For some Senators, Clinger’s reassurance was not enough. Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said he does not want to wait until a May revenue forecast to discover a $106 million hole exists or not.

“I am extremely disappointed. The state cannot wait until May to make decisions about how we’re going to fund education, health care and public safety,” he said.