$6.37 billion K-12 education budget approved by Nevada Legislature | RecordCourier.com

$6.37 billion K-12 education budget approved by Nevada Legislature

Geoff Dornan

Lawmakers on Thursday gave tentative approval to a K-12 education budget totaling $6.37 billion over the biennium.

Roughly half that total — $3.16 billion — is money directly from the state — a 7 percent, or $210 million, increase over the current budget.

The rest of the money comes from the Local School Support Tax portion of the sales tax that’s expected to generate $2.75 billion in the coming two-year cycle and from the 25-cent property tax dedicated to K-12 that’s projected to generate some $451 million.

Those dollar amounts make up the so-called basic support contained in the Distributive School Account, but they’re all expected to change a bit by the time the budget plan is finally approved.

The General Fund accounts for $2.3 billion of basic support. The rest comes from a list of other revenue sources including, this cycle, medical and recreational marijuana money. State money also comes from Initiative Petition 1 Room Tax money, a share of the slot tax and federal mineral lease money.

The budget provides a base funding of $5,900 per pupil in 2018 and $5,967 in 2019. For the first time, the committee voted to place funding for all-day kindergarten in the Nevada Plan formula — a total of $169.6 million over the biennium. That explains nearly all of the projected increase in total enrollment since kindergarten students weren’t part of the DSA enrollment in the current budget.

There’s a total of $299.5 million in the DSA to support continuation of the class size reduction program in grades 1-3.

It also includes $383.5 million for special education programs.

But the joint Senate Finance, Assembly Ways and Means panel put off action on a number of issues that will impact the total funding package including Zoom Schools and Victory Schools. In addition, they’re still debating the school vouchers issue the governor budgeted at $60 million over the biennium.

In addition, the committee approved a number of the governor’s initiatives that are outside the basic support funding.

For the Gifted and Talented Education program, the subcommittee approved some $4.7 million over the biennium including nearly $300,000 to cover administrative costs of GATE programs that wasn’t included in the current budget.

The committee voted to continue funding of $22.3 million each year for the Read By Three program. They put $1.71 million each year into the Education Department’s budget to fund a statewide assessment contract to measure how well that program is doing.

Another $11.2 million a year will continue the Social Workers in Schools program that provides mental health counselors in schools with “identified needs.” Lawmakers agreed to give school districts the flexibility to hire those workers or contract for their services and to move those monies between years and between biennial budget cycles to provide more stability to the program.

The turnaround Schools Program to provide grant money to schools identified as in need of improvement was funded with $2.5 million a year as recommended by the governor. Lawmakers agreed to extend the amount of time those grants can be provided once a school shows improvement until they can sustain that improvement.

Lawmakers will revisit the K-12 education budgets this weekend to settle on final numbers.