Lawmakers hear objections to education study | NevadaAppeal.com

Lawmakers hear objections to education study

A legislative committee voted Thursday to send a controversial report on public school financing in Nevada on to the full Legislature with no recommendation.

The committee headed by Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, did so after being told there were errors in the study by Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, and that it failed to justify its recommendation the state put up to $1.3 billion more into public school budgets over the next decade.

Among those errors was the study’s conclusion those budgets need to increase $436 million a year to ensure all students meet federally mandated proficiency standards by 2014. Legislative Fiscal Analyst Bob Atkinson said the correct number is $222.7 million per year.

Richard Phelps, representing the Nevada Policy Research Institute, said the methods used to develop the report were flawed – in part because they rely on teachers and administrators who stand to benefit most to decide what is needed. He was joined by Ray Bacon, who represents Nevada’s industrial businesses, and Carole Vilardo, of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, in questioning the validity of the study and its conclusions.

Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, and Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, recommended sending the study to the full 2007 Legislature with no recommendation. Perkins said lawmakers will review the data then and decide which recommendations to adopt.

The study was requested to help determine what Nevada must do to ensure its public schools meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Those standards get tougher every year until 2014 when states will be required to make sure nearly every student meets proficiency requirements.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.