Redevelopment money goes to schools
County commissioners got a lesson in school funding on Thursday as part of a discussion on carving out a portion of Tahoe redevelopment for the school district.
Commissioners sitting as the redevelopment agency board voted 4-0 to direct the collection of that portion of Redevelopment Area No 2 to the Douglas County School District until June 30, 2021.
Deputy District Attorney Zach Wadlé said the redevelopment area makes its money from tax increment that wouldn’t be allocated to other agencies.
The resolution will separate out the school district’s portion of the redevelopment money until the state alters the funding formula June 30, 2021.
The estimated $424,863 that would be raised for the school district over the next 18 months won’t be much but it will help, according to Douglas County School District Director of Business Services Sue Estes.
“We’ve taken a $3 million cut because of the per student factor and state restructuring of funding.”
She said Senate Bill 543 approved by the last Legislature could result in a whole new funding structure for schools in Nevada.
“We may lose some additional funds and this redevelopment money really will help us in our local tax structure,” she said.
The state funds schools on a per pupil basis, and Douglas County has seen decreasing enrollments over the past dozen years, particularly at Lake Tahoe.
She said the entire district has lost 1,500 students since 2012 and that Whittell High and Zephyr Cove are down to a combined 270 students.
“When I came here there were 1,700 students at the Lake,” she said.
There are 5,790 students in the county with the district losing another 60 students this year.
“I don’t see that improving,” she said. “Families with children are not moving to this county.”
Under the Nevada Plan, every property owner in the state has paid 75 cents per $100 assessed valuation since 1983.
Nevada is home to 17 counties, each of which is its own school district. Funding for districts has been distributed by the state on a per pupil amount set by the Legislature and modified depending on local property tax collections.
However, the Legislature modified the Nevada Plan to provide weighted funding for students that cost more to educate, including English language learners and special education students.
Senate Bill 543 was approved by both houses and signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak on June 14.
Called a pupil-centered funding plan, it would replace the Nevada Plan in 2021, and rural school districts generally opposed it because it would reduce their funding.
Superintendent Teri White said funding that plan could knock an $8 million hole in the budget in 2021-22 when it goes into effect.
Over the next two years, the two plans will run simultaneously.
Commissioner Larry Walsh was absent from the meeting.