Nevada’s State School Board Saturday voted to ask the legislature for an additional $1.1 billion, mostly for increases in teacher pay, but also to add 2,000 teachers. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the story in Sunday’s paper:
The Nevada State Board of Education voted Saturday to recommend that the 2007 Legislature increase spending on public education by $1.1 billion over current levels.
The proposal, if approved by lawmakers, would boost Nevada’s education funding by 50 percent and consume more than the $1 billion in additional general fund tax revenue that Gov. Kenny Guinn has said will be available for all state agencies in the upcoming budget.
Guinn estimates that state government will receive $6.9 billion in tax revenue for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 budgets, compared with $5.9 billion in the current two-year budget.
The board, which approved its education spending recommendation in a 9-1 vote, wants to increase teacher salaries 3 percent each year over the next two years. It also voted to reduce the current ratio of 21.4 students per teacher to 19.65. That ratio last was achieved by Nevada public schools in 2001-02.
Reducing the ratio would require public schools to hire about 2,000 additional teachers.
In the current two-year budget, the state spends about $2.2 billion on public education, or $4,600 for each of the 404,000 students. The proposals backed by the state board would increase state spending to $3.3 billion and raise the per-student allocation to $6,244.
(story reported by Ed Vogel of the Review-Journal’s Capital Bureau in Reno)
In Nevada, all but about 10% of local school funding comes from the state government. Nevada is the state among the continental 48 with the highest percentage of land controlled by federal agencies, way over 50%. Most of that land is unpopulated, but the state has experienced explosive growth around Las Vegas and Reno. New schools pop up with amazing frequency around Las Vegas. Budget issues in Nevada education may vary from other states.
The vote on the proposal was 9 in favor, one opposed. The one opponent to the budget recommendation explained her vote in a way that may pop eyes in other states:
Barbara Myers, the only board member to vote against the budget request, said she opposed the plan only because she wanted to reduce the student-teacher ratio even more.