Posts Tagged ‘joyce haldeman’

Lawmaker Review Of 45-Year-Old Nevada Public Education Funding Plan To Proceed With Funding

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:50 am March 2nd, 2012

(Updated with donors who paid $125,00 in total for the review.)

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers today moved forward with a review of the state’s 45-year-old formula for funding public education after receiving $125,000 from the Clark County School District to pay for a study.

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.

But it was contingent upon funding from the Clark County School District, which is seeking the review. The district wants lawmakers to consider revising the formula to assist urban districts with the costs of educating special education students, English-language learners and children in poverty, among other factors.

Funding for the study provided by the district includes $50,000 from several hotel-casino related organizations, including $10,000 each from the Harrah Foundation, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, MGM Resorts International, Stations Casinos and Wynn Resorts.

Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons.

Lawmakers on the panel voted to hire a consultant through a request for proposals to assist in the review of the formula.

Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, a member of the interim study panel, also asked the Clark County School District to provide a list of those who contributed to the district to produce the $125,000 for the study.

“Unless counsel would advise us otherwise I think it is a matter of public record so I think it is important that the committee and those who might be evaluating this study later on know exactly how it was funded and where the funds came from, so . . .” he said.

Joyce Haldeman, representing the district, said the information would be provided.

The list was provided to the Nevada News Bureau today and also includes $25,000 from the Clark County School District, $15,000 from the Washoe County School District, and $9,500 from the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-Technical Employees.


Audio clip:

Sen. Greg Brower says the committee and others should know where the funding came from:

030212Brower :16 came from, so . . .”


State Fiscal Constraints Holding Up Interim Studies Of Public Education, Retirement System

By Sean Whaley | 1:51 pm February 15th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The state of Nevada’s tough financial situation is holding up two separate interim studies approved by the Legislature because of the requirement for alternative funding sources to assist in conducting the reviews.

One is a study of the state Public Employees’ Retirement System and the other is a study of the funding formula now used for public education. Both studies require non-state funding, but proponents are having a hard time coming up with the money.

Typically there is state funding appropriated for interim studies by the Legislature. But the state’s difficult fiscal situation led to the imposition of the financial requirements for the two studies.

Retirement system review requires $250,000 in private cash up front

Gov. Brian Sandoval and lawmakers approved a study of the state public pension system with an eye towards evaluating the need for a change for future state and local government hires to a “defined contribution”  or some modified type of plan.

But the study outlined in Assembly Bill 405 requires a $250,000 contribution from the private sector to be secured before another $250,000 appropriation from the state could be used for such an assessment.

The private funding has been hard to come by.

Heidi Gansert, chief of staff to Sandoval, said other options are being explored by representatives of Nevada’s business community interested in such a review.

Sandoval Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert, right, with former budget director Andrew Clinger. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“They had to meet the $250,000 threshold before state funds would be released and so I think the issue was the level of funding required, private funding, versus getting some funding for it,” she said. “There may be some private sector folks that are still going to work on some form of study.

“My understanding is the $250,000 is too high of a threshold but they are looking at coming up with partial funding and maybe doing something on their own versus trying to meet that threshold to get the state funding,” Gansert said.

Sandoval favors a change to the retirement plan because of a concern about the potential taxpayer liability for the defined benefit plan that covers almost all state and local government employees. The long-term unfunded liability is estimated at about $10 billion, although some assessments using different measures put it at a much higher amount.

There has been a growing call nationally to move public pension plans to a state to a defined contribution plan, similar to a 401(k)-type plan, from the current defined benefit plan, where retirees are paid a set amount per month based on salary and years of service.

Sandoval has advocated such a position, although the concept did not see any serious discussion in the 2011 legislative session.

Nevada PERS officials say the plan is actuarially sound, and that the unfunded liability will be covered over time. They also note that the contribution rates required to keep the plan healthy are set by an independent actuary and are fully funded by the Legislature. The Legislature also made several changes to the existing PERS plan in 2009.

Public education study requires at least $125,000 to move forward

The legislative study looking at potentially new ways of funding public education was sought by the Clark County School District. But no state funding was provided for the review.

At the first meeting of the New Method for Funding Public Schools interim study in January, Clark County School District official Joyce Haldeman said $125,000 in anticipated funding from a private foundation to pay for a study would not be available.

The district is looking for other funding for the study.

Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, the chairman of the interim study, gave the district until Feb. 21 to identify at least $125,000 for a study. The panel is scheduled to meet Feb. 28, but the meeting will be cancelled if no funding is secured.

The Clark County School District would like to see new factors included in the 45-year-old funding formula, such as additional financial weight given to educate special education students, English-language learners and children in poverty.

Questions have been raised as to whether either study is actually needed, however.

Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy director of policy for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, said in an interview in June, 2011, regarding the PERS unfunded liability that legislative studies do not typically generate change in subsequent legislative sessions.

And Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, a member of the public education interim study panel, asked for justification for the proposed review at the January meeting, noting a 2007 study by lawmakers identified no inequities in the Nevada Plan formula for public education.

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


Audio clips:

Heidi Gansert, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s chief of staff, says the level of private funding required for the PERS study to go forward is too high:

021512Gansert1 :15 form of study.”

Gansert says business leaders may come up with a lower level of funding and conduct their own study:

021512Gansert2 :10 the state funding.”


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.”


Governor’s Education Bills Get First Vetting in Legislature

By Andrew Doughman | 9:33 pm April 11th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval has said before that he can reform Nevada’s education system while still reducing the budget allotted to the state’s K-12 system.

But the cost of several of his proposals drew opposition at a legislative hearing today.

Assembly Bills 554 and 557 would establish a $20 million pot of merit pay for teachers, allow for open enrollment at schools regardless of geographic boundary, give letter grades to schools and end the policy of social promotion.

Representatives from the school districts of Clark and Washoe counties said the reforms, while laudable, required more money than Sandoval has budgeted for.

Joyce Haldeman of the Clark County School District said that pay for performance – basically, a system of awarding bonuses to good teachers – comes at the expense of cuts to programs like class-size reduction and full-day kindergarten.

“Without the resources, this bill is a difficult task for the school districts,” said Craig Hulse of the Washoe County School District.

On the issue of social promotion, legislators asked about the costs and how many students could be held back under the proposal.

Social promotion is a policy whereby students jump from grade to grade regardless of how much they learn each year.

Ending that policy would mean students who cannot read at grade level may be held back, or face summer school or other remediation. These extra programs could potentially cost the state money.

Dale Erquiaga, Sandoval’s senior adviser, said he did not have an estimate of how many students would be affected.

He did, however, criticize the state’s current policy, saying it leads students to failure.

“Unfortunately it causes critical failure later in the system,” Erquiaga said. “They’re going to fail, they’re going to drop out, they will not graduate later in life.”

Legislators on the Assembly Education committee considering the bills usually debate the policy measures of bills. But during this budget-conscious session, money seems like a difficult issue to avoid.

Craig Stevens of the Nevada State Education Association argued against the merit pay bill not for its policy, but because of the context surrounding the bill.

He said it was wrong to cut the pay teachers currently receive for the years they have worked and the advanced degrees they have attained – totals for which run into the hundreds of millions – and replace that with $20 million in merit pay.

The open enrollment and letter grade sections of the bills were not as controversial. Ken Turner of the Clark County School District, however, said that the school district opposes grading schools with letter grades because that system is too simplistic.

The committee did not yet vote on the bills, instead cutting the meeting short and ending at 8 p.m.


Bill Would Reduce Fees For Public Records

By Andrew Doughman | 2:20 pm April 4th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A bill from Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, would put a cap on fees that state or local governments can charge for public documents.

Assembly Bill 159 would reduce the fee for public records from $1 per page to 10 cents per page.

In a hearing today, Colleen McCarty from the investigative team at KLAS-TV Channel 8 in Las Vegas said that some agencies can charge “exorbitant” amounts for records.

“More and more this is the way that public agencies work to delay us or discourage us to get the records that we believe an open society should have access to,” she said.

Representatives from some of Nevada’s various city and county governments, school districts and court systems, testified in opposition to the bill.

“Many times people are looking for a needle in a haystack and while the needle is not expensive, they want us to pay for the haystack,” said Joyce Haldeman, who represents the Clark County School District.

She joined others in citing concerns about labor costs in complying with records requests.

While advances in technology have made more records available online and at less cost to the taxpayer, not all records are created equal.

For example, the minutes and agendas of meetings can be posted online for free at relatively no cost to the government.

Other requests can take hours to fill. Only charging 10 cents per page for these more complicated requests would mean government agencies would lose money, said many of those who testified against the bill.

Karen Gray at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a free-market think tank, testified that she has encountered discrepancies regarding the cost of public records.

NPRI often makes large requests of government agencies. It hosts the oft-cited database of public employee salaries on one of its websites.

Other lawmakers noted that even if the 10 cent fee was too low, Segerblom’s bill would at least provide consistency.

“To the public, so any of these policies on public records look capricious when we have different costs and different fees,” said Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno. “ …I think it’s worth a conversation so how we get a more consistent policy in place.”

The Assembly Government Affairs committee that heard the bill has not yet taken a vote on it.


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.