New Nevada school funding plan does not include new money, may be harmful to rurals, head of teachers’ union says

By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers

Ruben Murillo, president of the Nevada State Education Association, was not pleased after he was given a preview of the highly-anticipated plan to overhaul the state’s 50-year old education funding program, commonly called the Nevada Plan.

The head of the statewide teachers’ union said on Nevada Newsmakers the overhaul does not include additional revenues and is potentially harmful to rural school districts.

“I really can’t go into detail but it seems like unless there is additional funding that comes in, it is rearranging the money,” he told host Sam Shad. “We need to make sure there is additional money that comes in that also expands the pie, not to just rearrange it.”


The program with Murillo will air Thursday.

Previews of the proposal were also given to members of Southern Nevada’s business and gaming communities, according to the Nevada Independent. Any bill to overhaul the Nevada Plan, however, has yet to be formally introduced at the Nevada Legislature. About a month remains in the regular session.

Rural school districts should be concerned about the new funding plan, Murillo said.

Veteran Nevadan Journalist Ray Hagar is known for fair and tough reporting and invigorating commentary.

“The rural counties are really in a precarious position, based on revenues,” he said. “If there are not any additional increases in revenues, it is going to be a challenge for our rural school districts to continue to be able to pay their teachers and provide programs. So with a broad brush, I would be very interested to see how our (rural) school districts respond and what impact the plan implemented would have on them.

“The emphasis has been on keeping the rural counties ‘hold harmless,’ ” Murillo said. “But as some people said, this is really a freeze on them. Anything that would rearrange (funding in) counties like Clark or Washoe needs to be done. But keep in mind, rural school districts also need to keep educating children.”

New tax money for education — like moving all marijuana tax revenues to education — was not discussed, Murillo said. No major tax increases have been introduced at the Legislature, not counting taxes that were supposed to sunset.

There’s money for the first year of 3-percent raises for Nevada teachers — a promise made by Gov. Steve Sisolak — but not the second year in the state’s two-year budget cycle, Murillo said.

“It’s going to be a challenge for any group if there are not additional monies … to provide raises,” he said. “For example, there’s a 3-percent raise that is supposed to be provided by the governor onto the district. But what is not being discussed is that second year of the 3-percent raise isn’t funded.”

School districts may be forced to cut specific education programs or lay off teachers to meet the fiscal requirement of the second-year of 3-percent raises for teachers, Murillo said.

“So districts are going to have to find a way to have that money to support the raises, which means, potentially, layoffs and cuts in programs in order to fund that salary increase,” Murillo said.

“That is not the way it should work,” he said. “The way the raise should work is that if there is a promise for 3-percent raise, it should be funded all of the way through and not put on districts, which then have to decide, ‘Well, if I give a 3-percent raise, what programs will I cut or what positions will I lay off’ in order to provide that additional source of revenue?”

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