Feuling welcomes audit order, says funding ‘complacent’

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Gov. Joe Lombardo’s executive order calling for school districts to submit external audits to the Governor’s Finance Office for review will help increase accountability and quality in funding, Carson City School District Superintendent Andrew Feuling said.

Feuling said that Lombardo’s Executive Order 2023-005 issued Feb. 6 directing the Division of Internal Audits in the Governor’s Finance Office to review Nevada’s 17 public school districts and the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority is an opportunity to improve Nevada’s national ranking in education.

“We are excited to see Gov. Lombardo's executive budget and suggested progress toward filling a $5,000 per student (40%) gap between the level of funding Nevada currently provides to K-12 schools and what several legislative studies have shown to be ‘adequate’ funding (the funding needed to provide the level of service the State mandates),” Feuling said.

Reports to be submitted by school districts will allow the Division of Internal Audits to compile a report summarizing key findings in its audit, identify deficiencies in Nevada’s schools and provide recommendations to Lombardo to remedy them. The report must be submitted to Lombardo by Dec. 29.

But Feuling said he hoped these findings would inspire Lombardo and state leaders to help fund Nevada’s education system beyond sufficient means.

“We do not attempt to inspire our kids to be ‘average’ or ‘adequate,’” Feuling said. “That is an unacceptably low bar. However, the state has been complacent in holding itself accountable with an even lower bar of nearly 50th in the nation in K-12 education funding for decades.”

Carson City School District’s own base per-pupil funding, in its hold harmless status by the Commission on School Funding, in the amount of $7,753 for 2023 has dropped from $7,763 in 2022 and from $7,817 in 2020, Feuling reported to the school board during its Jan. 24 meeting. At that time, if Carson City were to be funded at adequate levels, or about $5,000 more per pupil according to a Legislature-commissioned “adequacy” study, Feuling said theoretically Carson High School would have about 90 more staff members.

“There’s already almost 180 at Carson High now,” he told the board on Jan. 24. “But in order to provide to the level that the state is saying should be happening, that’s effectively the difference in staffing. It’s incredible. I don’t know where you’d put all those people. Carson High is a big building, right? We’d put on a third level, put the swimming pool on top, maybe.”

Feuling said to help school districts like Carson City operate successfully with Nevada’s expected levels of growth, the ability to embrace decisions such as Lombardo’s executive order is important.

“If providing the governor with all of the audits school districts have been subject to for decades helps us get to a place where we can provide the quality of service and product our students, families, communities and Nevada deserve, we certainly welcome that,” he said.


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