Some education advocates believe the $500 million which garnered headlines and public applause last week is simply a restoration of cuts. (A 2019 education funding rally at Liberty High School in Las Vegas. Photo by April Corbin Girnus)
Education advocates suspect another bait-and-switch.
The K-12 education budget bill, Senate Bill 458 passed unanimously in both chambers of the Nevada State Legislature on Wednesday and is now headed to Gov. Steve Sisolak for signing. It has been cheered as “historic” by legislators, but questions linger among education advocates who say the available data from the state doesn’t line up.
When the K12 budget bill passed through a joint budget committee last week, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas) asked for an apples-to-apples per-pupil comparison of the new and old budgets. He indicated he believed per-pupil support to be significantly more. Legislative staff during that meeting responded that they expected that comparison would be included as part of the final budget bill.
But when the budget bill was released on Monday, the apparent comparison wasn’t encouraging to education advocates.
Central to their concerns are the amounts of “total public support” listed in SB458 compared to those listed in the education budget bill passed during the 2019 Legislature (SB555). According to the 2019 budget bill, the total public support per pupil approved by lawmakers was $10,227 for the 2019-20 school year and $10,319 for 2020-21 school year.
The total public support per pupil listed in SB458 is $10,204 for the upcoming 2021-22 school year. That represents a $115 per student decrease compared to the previous year. The total public support per pupil is set at $10,290 for the 2022-23 school year — $29 less than current funding levels.
But all of that is only true if the numbers are comparable.
The printed definitions