Feedback needed on school finance study | NevadaAppeal.com

Feedback needed on school finance study

Steve Ranson
LVN Editor Emeritus

Mark Fermanich of Augenblick, Palaich and Associates gives an overview on a study that could lead to a new education funding plan for grades K-12.

Feedback is being solicited statewide for a school finance study being conducted on behalf of the Nevada Department of Education.

A three-person team visited Fallon on Sept. 19 to brief the Churchill County School Board and community members on a proposal to fund education differently, said Mark Fermanich of Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA). In his presentation, he discussed how the study includes identifying resources that will serve at-risk students, English language learners, special education students and gifted and talented students. The study does include the costs of transportation.

Until Sept. 28, the study is soliciting additional online feedback from the community at http:goo.gl/edRbg4.

APA study teams crisscrossed Nevada last week reporting on a draft report that was submitted to the NDOE on Aug. 1. The team visiting Fallon had also presented the findings to groups in Ely and Tonopah. He said the study took in account state standards for students, graduation requirements and the expectations of the school district, teachers and students. He said a similar student done by UNLV examined similar information.

The study began during the spring of 2017 and delved into what's on people's minds regarding education. At issue is Education Week's yearly rankings of the states that show Nevada is No. 47 in receiving education financing for grades K-12.

"Nevada is poorly funded compared to other states," Fermanich said.

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The study also examined the cost to educate most students to state expectations, how funding should be similar from district to district and students should be helped regardless of ability.

Besides looking at Nevada's national ranking, Fermanich said the state should be funding more money, but past history has shown previous Legislatures have not been willing to spend money and raise revenues.

Because of Nevada's booming economy, other studies ranging from various economic development authorities to the state indicate new and expanding businesses will need thousands of trained workers — both with or without college degrees — to meet their needs.

Fermanich said the study team recommends replacing Nevada's existing funding structure with a weighted student formula. The formula funding, Fermanich said, should be cost-based determined by the resources needed to meet state standards and requirements; equitable, which proposes similar students, schools and districts receive the same funding and taxpayers should be treated equally; responsive to student needs through the use of adjustments based on stunts' needs; responsive to district characteristics through adjustments in district size, comparative wage index to address cost of a living and a small-schools' adjustment; and both transparent and flexible.

By using several different base amounts that provide funding, Fermanich showed how an implemented formula based on studies from 2006, 2015 and 2018 would apply additional money to school districts. For example, on a base amount of $5,998 given annually to each district for each student, a special education student would receive a weight of 1.70 for an additional $10,612. The English learners rate would be .77 or $4,619 in addition to the base.

Fermanich also said school districts need to re-examine their budgets to attract good teachers. He said states that provide more funding to education are in the upper tier with their test scores and student success.