Nevada's schools earned a mixed report card in a national education survey, getting home a D+ in overall school climate and a B- in standards and accountability.
Quality Counts 2003, released by the Washington-based Education Week publication, also gave Nevada a C- in resources adequacy and a B grade for equitable distribution of those resources.
Nevada's low mark for school climate, which includes class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios, is a direct result of the lack of money available for education, said Agustin Orci, deputy superintendent of instruction for the Clark County School District.
Mary Pierczynski, superintendent of the Carson City School District, said the district is working to maintain low student-teacher ratios.
"In Carson City, we're trying to keep student-teacher ratios as low as we can with the budget constraints we all work with," she said.
Nevada also ranked among the bottom 10 states in the country for per-pupil funding, a situation the state's 17 superintendents say they are determined to change in the coming legislative session.
Nevada spent $6,438 per pupil in 2000, adjusted for regional cost differences, compared with the national average of $7,524. West Virginia had the country's highest per-pupil expenditure, with $9,768.
Nevada also doesn't have enough teacher-training institutions to keep up with demand in a state where student enrollment is growing at three times the national average, the report found.
Nevada's rigorous testing requirements for teachers may also have deterred applicants, but under the new federal mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act other school districts will be required to follow the state's lead, the report said.
Pierczynski said the area at the foot of the Sierra and close to Lake Tahoe, attracts many qualified teachers to the Carson City School District.
"We're very satisfied with the quality of teachers we attract in Carson City," she said. "People come here because this is a wonderful community to live in."