School officials deny unused-money claim | NevadaAppeal.com
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School officials deny unused-money claim

by Geoff Dornan

State education officials say the claim Nevada failed to use $26 million in federal education funding available to it during the last fiscal year is wrong.

The statement was made by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who objected after state officials said the federal No Child Left Behind act wasn’t fully funded. He quoted a federal Department of Education study which indicated Nevada was not using all of the money available to it.

“The U.S. Department of Education report that Nevada was not using $26 million in federal education funds was not only misleading to the public but was inaccurate,” said Superintendent of Education Keith Rheault.

He said the money is part of $137.3 million in federal education funding provided under 33 programs in fiscal year 2003. Rheault said the state isn’t missing out on the funding because it has until the end of September to spend the money.

He and Doug Thunder, deputy superintendent for finance, said the state expects to obligate and spend nearly all of that money before the Sept. 30 deadline.

“After reviewing the federal education funds received by Nevada during state fiscal years 1999 through 2002, the state spent 99.62 percent of all federal funds received during that time period and I expect that the same general percentage will be spent from the federal allocations received by the state during fiscal year 2003,” said Thunder.

“We do everything we can to utilize every federal dollar we receive to benefit our schools, teachers and children,” said Rheault.

No Child Left Behind has become contentious in a number of states including Nevada where school district officials say it will cost $180 million or more to implement – far more than the $10 million a year state education officials say Nevada is getting in new money under the act.

While federal supporters of the NCLB act argue Nevada’s federal funding for education has increased dramatically, state officials point out nearly all of that increase results from the increase in Nevada’s population of school age children – increases which hit the state budget in 2002-2003 after new census numbers were used to calculate Nevada’s share of federal money.

Contact Geoff Dornan at nevadaappeal@sbcglobal.net or 687-8750.