K-12 funding change hurts Washoe County schools | NevadaAppeal.com

K-12 funding change hurts Washoe County schools

Plugging kindergarten funding fully into the state’s K-12 budget resulted in an unanticipated hit to the Washoe County School District’s budget.

Washoe lobbyist Lindsay Anderson told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on Friday the school district’s budget was built on the historical amount of per pupil funding Washoe has received for at least 15 years — 98 percent of the statewide average.

But funding kindergarten students through the Distributive School Account instead of outside the formula resulted in an unexpected shift of cash away from Washoe County. In large part, that’s because the projected kindergarten population in Clark County increased significantly more than the increase projected for Washoe County.

“Including kindergarten in the formula is causing this issue,” she told the committee.

But she said until the K-12 education funding bill came out, they didn’t know Washoe’s funding would be 96 percent of the statewide average.

That 2 percent difference, she said, is a significant reduction that will cost Washoe an estimated $6.6 million in each of the coming two years.

“That’s above and beyond the $40 million deficit in the budget our school board just adopted,” she said.

Anderson said Washoe officials are still working with the state education department to see what can be done to protect funding for the district’s 64,000 students.

But Nevada Schools Superintendent Steve Canavero said there’s little they can do because the formula is in statute. That formula is designed to adjust what each of Nevada’s 17 school districts receives in per pupil funding from the state, taking local funding into account. The most extreme example is Eureka County which receives almost no state education money due to the large amount of property tax revenue from the Carlin Trend gold mines.