A recent headline in the Las Vegas Review Journal reads: “Clark County School Deficits Puzzle Governor Sandoval and State Lawmakers”
The article quotes Governor Sandoval as saying, “We have added hundreds of millions of dollars to the education budget since my tenure as governor.” Sandoval went on to say, “we have established Victory schools, we have established Zoom schools, Read by 3, all that programming that came along with the money to do those things.”
Yes, millions were invested in education, but to categoricals, not to the general education funds.
463 – that is the number of vacancies at the Clark County School District at the beginning of this school year.
This is a great improvement from where CCSD was two years ago when it started the school year with more than one thousand vacancies.
This progress has to be credited to the most recent contract negotiations which resulted in increasing the starting salary from $34,000 to $40,000 for new CCSD teachers — finally starting salaries that are more competitive. SB 511 sweetened the pot by funding bonuses for teachers who signed on to Title I schools. Other benefits of the CCSD teacher contract put the average teacher salary at around $56,000 through step increases that resulted in raises more quickly, and made CCSD’s compensation competitive with the national average of $57,000.
It’s always hard to put a value to the amazing work our teachers do for our students. The new bargained for salary increases and the Nevada Legislature’s bonus incentives were definitely steps in the right direction. However, the current 463 vacancies highlight two fundamental problems that have not been addressed.
As if on cue, the start of the school year brings announcements of deficits in the budgets of Nevada school districts. Washoe CSD was faced with a $40 million deficit, and rural districts are struggling to pay for basic expenses. The Clark County School District (CCSD) which serves 70% of the state’s 460,000 public school children, has the largest deficit of at least $60 million.
With all the shortages it’s hard to overlook that Nevada ranks 46th in the nation when it comes to education funding.
Yesterday the White House announced the end to the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program that allows young undocumented immigrants who were brought here as small children to remain without fear of deportation.
This program has allowed 800,000 young immigrants to be deferred for deportation and allows them to get a driver’s license, go to college and be a part of our workforce.
Approximately $60 million — that’s the budget deficit the Clark County School District recently announced it is facing this fiscal year. CCSD is not alone. Washoe County School District is facing a $13 million budget deficit with another $40 million in deficit looming.
What does this mean for students? During last week’s board meeting the CCSD Board of Trustees approved what seemed to be a rushed schedule of budget cuts proposed by CCSD leadership with only a couple of hours notice. These cuts include $14 million in cuts to school services, another $17.3 in strategic budgets at schools, and $11.8 million from central services. While rushed, the list of cuts and process is well detailed and transparent, the impact – not so much. See proposed cuts here. State law does not allow school districts to operate in the red.
Here’s what the current cuts mean for students and parents:
As we begin to celebrate our nation’s Independence, it’s an important time to reflect on what a wonderful country this is and how lucky we are to be educated here.
This legislative session taught us that the people of Nevada continue to be passionate about education. We learned that most of Nevada’s legislators of both parties, and their constituents, want to make improvements and investments in education even if there is not a consensus on the best way to do it.
Educate Nevada Now, powered by the Rogers Foundation, would like to publically thank all the senators and assembly members who stood strong against vouchers and also pushed for other successful education initiatives like a Weighted Funding Formula, and the continuation of ZOOM and Victory Schools.