(Todd Bailey) – As the 2011 Legislative session is less than 30 days away, Washoe County School District is gearing up. The district is now running paid columns in local publications written by their political team that come with clever urgings for parents to begin contacting their legislators to support additional funding for education.
This is a clear and obvious violation of the district’s own policy (1310) forbidding political activity using taxpayer funds, yet it is happening today.
Regardless of any claims made by district officials, it is the financial reports of Washoe County School District that tell the true story. Not only has education funding been increased significantly over the last 10 years, it is one of the biggest contributors to inflation in Washoe County.
According to the Washoe County School District’s own financial report for the 2010 fiscal year, district SPENDING on operations went up 42% from 2001 to 2010. From a strictly economic point of view, this is Education Inflation at a rate of 42%, exceeded only slightly by the increase in the cost of health care in Washoe County.
During this same period, enrollment had a variation of 2.5% or less year over year, a total increase of 11% over the same period. Ten years, enrollment up 11%, cost of providing education up 42%. If your business had such large increase in the cost of doing business, what would you do? Invest more money in something that is going to cost you more every single year to operate, exceeded only by health care, and only one provider?
Careful examination of where the increase was applied in Washoe County School District shows the district put almost the entire 42% increase into salary and benefit increases, as well as additional staff.
It is true, that this was decided at the Nevada Legislature, through automatic increase in COLAs (Cost Of Living Allowance) and the DSA (Distributive School Account). It is also true that the district and every employee union spent that same period lobbying for the increases.
What is a surprise is how well management did at controlling every cost (inflation), in the district except one. They spent almost no additional money on anything else, simply re-allocated what was left. Further, employees at the top end of the scale received much bigger increases that those at the bottom. Has your family’s income seen the same level of increase over the same period?
To be fair, you can find similar results in many, although not all, public sector employers in Washoe County. As a community, and as a state, how are we going to afford inflation at a level of 42%? The largest employers in Washoe County are government entities, and there appears to be nothing available to control this level of inflation.
This why you’ll hear so many people at the Nevada Legislature talking about reform or the elimination of N.R.S. 288. This is why the teachers union, and almost every other collective bargaining unit, have protecting N.R.S. 288 their number one priority. Education Inflation protection, that is more important than anything in classroom, just follow the money in the district’s own financial report.
Why did we allow 42% inflation in Education? Just like today, we’ve been told for 20 years it was necessary for economic diversity, no new employers would come to Nevada without more money for education.
According to Washoe County School District’s own financial report, there has been little change in Washoe County on economic diversity, for the last 20 years the largest employers have been government entities requiring additional funding every year at an inflationary rate that almost matches health care. With increased fund for education, this could easily be true in another 20 years, there is no plan to do anything else, except increase spending.
All of this happening is happening in the most economically depressed period in 80 years, in the most economically depressed place in the United States. Is this something Nevada really wants to do again in the 2011 Legislature, continue inflationary spending at a rate of 42% over 10 years?
(Todd Taxpayer Bailey is a new media publisher and chair of Jobs For Nevada PAC)