(Victor Joecks/NPRI) – And the findings of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, which is the official research arm of the Legislature, show these spending increases were substantial.
In the past eight years (from the 2000-01 school year to 2008-09), inflation-adjusted, per-pupil education spending has increased from $7,219 to 8,597 in the Washoe County School District and from $6,768 to $8,381 in the Clark County School District.
That’s a $1,378 or 19 percent increase per student in WCSD and a $1,613 or 23 percent increase per student in CCSD. On these charts, the “5 Function” figure includes capital costs, so the “Accountability” line is what’s being compared here.
And as Nevada has dramatically increased funding, results have gotten worse. In the last eight years (2002-10), Nevada’s estimated graduation rate has dropped 11 percent, from 68.3 percent to 57.1 percent.
And even that might be too generous. Education Week reports that Nevada’s graduation rate dropped from 65.7 percent in 1997 to 41.8 percent in 2007 — a shocking 23.9 percent decrease. Also during this time period, Nevada’s scores on the NAEP fourth-grade reading test have been stagnant.
These findings of the LCB confirm what NPRI has been seeing for years, but they’re especially timely now. That’s because if Monday’s Economic Forum revenue projections come back higher, our elected officials are likely going to put those tax dollars into education.
While some may claim this is important, the above statistics from the LCB confirm that spending more on K-12 education hasn’t improved student learning in Nevada. Instead of dumping more money into a failing system, Nevada needs to institute proven education reforms if it wants to increase student achievement.
Also with about $500 million of very objectionable gimmicks in the governor’s budget (a $200 million loan and taking $300 million from school district debt service reserves), Gov. Sandoval and the Legislature would be better off using any extra money projected by the Economic Forum to eliminate these one-time revenue instruments.
The LCB didn’t just decide to conduct and publish this research, either. Assemblyman Ira Hansen requested that the LCB find out this information about Nevada’s education spending. He then sent it to all of the members of the Assembly and submitted it into the record during a recent Assembly Committee of the Whole meeting.
Let’s hope taxpayers thank Assemblyman Hansen for his work obtaining and publicizing this information and that each and every member of the Legislature and the public considers these facts.