Senate Finance calls for passage of education formula overhaul |

Senate Finance calls for passage of education formula overhaul

The Senate Finance Committee on Saturday voted to recommend passage of the bill that would overhaul the 52-year-old formula that funds K-12 education.

Senate Bill 543 was opposed by two rural senators who said it would freeze rural school funding for at least a decade.

The goal of the new plan, backers said, is to base per pupil funding on the students rather appropriate it district wide.

Sens. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas and Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, developed the plan saying the 1967 Nevada Plan no longer works.

Denis said the idea is to make student funding “student centered,” to have the money follow students based on their needs including those who are English Language Learners, those on the edge of poverty, special education and the gifted and talented.

When it was introduced, Ruben Murillo who heads the teachers union said it would devastate rural school districts.

Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, voted not to pass the bill out of committee. He said it would hurt five of the six rural districts he represents.

He was joined by Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville. He said only three districts would get more money under the plan, primarily Clark and Washoe school districts.

Denis told the committee a key feature of SB543 is that it won’t take effect for two years.

“We’re going to run this parallel (to the existing formula) for two years to allow us to see what it does,” he said. “This gives us the opportunity to take a look and make some adjustments.”

Woodhouse too pointed out that, “the switch does not get flipped on this for two years so the next legislative session will have the opportunity to make changes.”