Zoom, Victory School programs get support in Nevada Legislature
A joint subcommittee of legislative money committees voted on Thursday to continue funding the Zoom, English Learner and Victory Schools grant programs.
Without action, those programs were to sunset July 1 of this year but Gov. Steve Sisolak included money for them in his recommended budget.
The 2017 Legislature approved the Zoom schools and the English Learner grant program to deal with schools that have a high percentage of English language learners and low performance.
Zoom schools served a total of 41 elementary, nine middle schools and one high school in Clark and Washoe counties. The EL program was aimed at those same schools in rural Nevada.
The Subcommittee of Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means voted to support spending $50 million in each fiscal year to continue the Zoom Schools and English Learner grant programs.
A report released in January says that because of the Zoom and EL programs, the number of Clark County schools below the lowest quartile in performance fell from 10 in 2017 to five in 2018. In Washoe County, the number fell from 10 to three.
In addition, the subcommittee voted to support the governor’s recommendation to continue $25 million a year in funding for the Victory Schools program. That program provides funding for additional services to underperforming elementary, middle and high schools that have high percentages of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. Its primary goals are to ensure elementary students can read by grade three, that students above that grade are ready for a rigorous high school curriculum and that high school graduates are college ready.
The actual number of Victory Schools totals 35 statewide and each received an allocation of $1,123 per pupil over the base per-pupil amount provided by the state to support the added programs.
Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, pointed out one of the problems with the program is that Victory Schools that see significant improvement are no longer eligible for the extra funding. He expressed concern that would cancel the programs responsible for student improvement and allow the school to slide back down in performance.
So the subcommittee voted to provide those schools no longer eligible for the added money to still get 50 percent of the amount in 2020 and 2021, providing what Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, described as a “Glide Path” rather than a “cliff” to help sustain those successful programs.
The decisions must still be approved by the full Finance and Ways and Means committees.