Committee continues hold harmless for shrinking school districts |

Committee continues hold harmless for shrinking school districts

by Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee decided Friday to keep the “hold harmless” guarantee protecting shrinking school districts from losing funding.

Existing law guarantees school districts won’t lose per-pupil funding from the state if their enrollments drop for two years. It was designed to give shrinking districts time to absorb the loss of funding by reducing their staffs and budgets.

Without a hold harmless feature, small school districts could find themselves with contracts for teachers and other financial commitments at the same time state funding is chopped back.

The original intent of AB122 was to cut the hold-harmless period to one year, but officials from several school districts said that isn’t enough time.

As amended, the bill will give districts that suffer a small reduction in total students — less than 5 percent — one year to reduce spending. Those which experience a 5 percent or more decrease will have two school years to make the adjustment before state funding is reduced.

Even though Nevada is the fastest growing state in the nation, several rural school districts are losing population and students each year, including Eureka, Lander and Esmeralda counties.

In addition, the legislation eliminates the hold-harmless guarantees for charter schools.