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April 19, 2015

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Teachers rally for increased state education funding


Steve Marcus

Teachers applaud a speaker during a rally for Education Awareness Day at Fay Herron Elementary School in North Las Vegas Monday Feb. 25, 2013. Teachers and members of the Clark County Education Association urged lawmakers in Carson City to consider issues with overcrowded classrooms and resources for English language learners. Over 95percent of the student population at the school is Hispanic, the principal said.

Updated Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 | 1:58 p.m.

Teachers Rally for Education Awareness Day

Teachers applaud a speaker during a rally for Education Awareness Day at Fay Herron Elementary School in North Las Vegas Monday Feb. 25, 2013. Teachers and members of the Clark County Education Association urged lawmakers in Carson City to consider issues with overcrowded classrooms and resources for English language learners. Over 95percent  of the student population at the school is Hispanic, the principal said. Launch slideshow »

Fay Herron Elementary

Nevada must invest more heavily in its underfunded and underperforming schools to graduate more students and boost the local economy.

That's the message thousands of teachers across the Clark County School District are hoping to send to lawmakers in Carson City on Monday, which has been designated by the Legislature as "Education Awareness Day."

Since the recession, the Clark County School District has seen more than $500 million in cuts to educational programs, staff and services, according to district officials. These cuts have resulted in teacher reductions and overcrowded classrooms, and the elimination of classroom programs and resources.

About 40 teachers gathered Monday morning at Fay Herron Elementary School to highlight the effects of the budget cuts to schools and to call for more education funding. The event — staged about a half hour before school started — was organized by the local teachers union and featured some of the more than 10,000 Clark County school teachers wearing "More 4 Schools" buttons.

Herron, which serves a high population of Hispanic students from low-income households, has been hit hard by the recession, teachers said.

The North Las Vegas school was forced to install eight portable classrooms to alleviate crowding, delay replacing outdated teaching materials and even ration its paper towel and toilet paper supplies, they said.

"We need more funding for education," said Cassandra Bell, an instructional aide. "We need to make sure we get the funding from the Legislature. We can't accept chump change any more."

In his biennial budget, Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed increasing state funding for K-12 education by $135 million over the next two years. Several of his budget proposals and education reforms will be discussed this week in Carson City.

Sandoval's plan would increase per-pupil funding by $195 in the first year and by $131 in the second year. Ultimately, those increases would lift state funding to $5,697 per student by 2015.

Currently, Nevada's federal, state and local per-pupil spending, about $8,510 per year, is ninth lowest in the nation.

The governor's budget also calls for $20 million to expand full-day kindergarten programs to about half of Nevada's elementary schools. It also suggests allocating state money for the first time – about $14 million – to support 76,500 students across Nevada who don't speak English as their first language.

Some say those efforts, while commendable, aren't enough to make up for the budget cuts and get Las Vegas students "ready by exit,” the School District’s goal that graduation should prepare students to succeed without any need for remediation.

Experts say it could cost up to $60 million – about three times as proposed – to expand full-day kindergarten to all elementary schools in Nevada. Moreover, a state-commissioned study found that Nevada should be spending at least $140 million per year – about 20 times as proposed – to support its ELL students.

At a press conference Monday afternoon in Carson City, Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis called for $310 million more in state spending for public education over the next biennium. Democrats have not proposed a way to raise that money, however.

Teachers union members at Herron Elementary argued Nevada needed additional revenue sources to adequately fund education. The Nevada State Education Association is pushing for a 2 percent margins tax on all businesses earning $1 million or more in revenue, after some deductions.

Legislators have less than a month to act on the petition initiative. If it's not passed, the tax initiative would head to voters in 2014.

"Every day our students and our teachers are forced to live with the consequences of a poorly funded and unsupported education system," said Vikki Courtney, Clark County Education Association vice president, addressing members of the media at Herron Elementary. "This simply cannot go on."

Further complicating education funding in Nevada is the looming sequester, a set of across-the-board federal spending cuts that would automatically take place if Congress fails to pass a balanced budget by Friday.

Over the weekend, the White House released the potential state-by-state impact of the "sequestration," which promises cuts to federal programs that serve Nevada children.

According to the White House, if sequestration were to happen, Nevada would lose about $9 million in federal funding for primary and secondary education, putting about 120 teacher and staff positions at risk. About 14,000 fewer students and about 10 fewer schools would receive federal funding in Nevada.

Furthermore, Nevada would lose about $3.8 million in federal funding for about 50 teachers and staff who work with special-needs children.

The Silver State's Head Start preschool programs would be eliminated for about 300 children. In addition, about 1,150 fewer children would receive vaccines for diseases.

"This is just one more layer of cuts we could be facing," Courtney said. "People have to come together and say schools and education are important. We can't keep doing more with less."

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  1. Spend more on education less on War...only a few benefit from war We all know who they are...

  2. Spend less on both.

  3. I would be happy to vote for any tax increase for schools if teachers agreed to change to 401K pension plans. The NVPers website clearly states that it assumes a Bernie Madoff 8% annual growth of its pension fund. No wonder education cuts are needed to pay pensions. Recently several articles have been written about capital appreciation bonds, that some schools in Calif. have issued to fund new construction. With CAB's, the amount paid back can be 15 to 20 times the original loan. Educators think they're the good guys but clearly they are not.

  4. Agree with manfromuncle1. So much money would be freed up is the pension was reformed to a defined contribution plan.

  5. Invest..... The new code word for public sector pay raise.

  6. Sure, let's tax GROSS receipts, not NET receipts, so that businesses who make no profit would still have to pay this margins tax. That'll be sure to force some businesses to shut down sooner. But, the teacher's union would be happy; they work for teachers, not taxpayers.

  7. Child welfare not corporate welfare !

  8. Let's get something straight here. Other than asking that the pay cut imposed on teachers by an arbitrator be restored, no one has asked that additional money be added to the teachers' salary schedule" not teachers, and not the union that bargains our contract. We're concerned about the fact that cuts have led to overcrowded classrooms, making it increasingly difficult to meet the academic needs of students. The average teacher in Clark County spends nearly $1,000 each year out of pocket for materials that the district cannot afford to buy, in large part because funding for education in Nevada is woefully inadequate! No teacher is getting rich at taxpayers' expense, but none of us ever had any illusions that we would. Instead, we work for less because the teaching is one of the most rewarding professions in the world, and because at the end of the journey, a decent (not extravagant) retirement plan awaits us. Based on comments I'm reading here, this expectation is apparently too much to ask as a reward for educating your children. And please, don't come back with lame comments about what a poor job we're doing of educating students until every parent is willing to demand that their children come to school daily, behave, and be prepared to learn. Most of you who are so quick to criticize have no clue when it comes to the obstacles teachers must maneuver around in order to make sure every child succeeds!

  9. Let's talk about the Education Initiative, the margin tax. In order for a business to have a MILLION in revenue, the average daily revenue would be just over $2,750 or more than the monthly pay for a beginning teacher. The tax on that daily revenue would be just over $55. If a business is doing 100 transactions per day to get to $2750, the tax would be less than $6. If a business is that fragile, I would question how long it would last anyway.

    Now, shall we talk about the taxes that companies pay to Nevada on the money earned in Nevada. If you want a list of companies that pay NO TAX ON MONEY EARNED IN NEVADA, just open the Yellow Pages.

  10. I am speaking for myself and my own business and situation.

    I lost a ton of money from 2008 to 2011 and would have been affected by this proposed margin tax. I employ a lot of people. I lost money and decided to stay open because startup costs are enormous and I wanted to keep my employees employed. I had a general hope that things would get better and was willing to put my money on that possibility and try to weather it through.

    To Question the fragility of a business losing money, you are questioning the motives of that owner to hope for better days.

    I would have closed and fired many, many employees the first sign of the downturn because I'lll be darned I'm paying more taxes while loosing money. I would have sat it out and it would have just exacerbated the the problem.

    But that's just me.

  11. Just to reference a misconception thrown out there by "manfromuncle1" about the annual return assumption:

    "Markets are extremely unpredictable in the short-term and the System does not expect to meet the 8% assumption in every year. However, since the fund's performance inception (28 years), the plan has generated a 9.3% return, net of all fees. Even in this most recent decade, Nevada PERS exceeded the long-term investment assumption of 8% in six out of ten years. The average return for the 10-year period ending June 30, 2012, is impacted by the return of fiscal 2009 when the System return was -15.8% (ranking for this period was in the top 12% of large institutional investors). Additionally, the average annualized return for the System is 11.4% over the last three years."

  12. Hey Kevin, what you're saying is this--while NVPers assumes a Madoff 8% annual growth in its pension fund, there has been NO GROWTH in the DJIA since the middle of 2007, as you can clearly see in the DJIA chart. The DJIA was 14000 just before the crash and after 6 years it's at 14000 again. And, yes, the NVPers fund has generated 9% annual growth since 1985 because that's how the DJIA performed in the last 3 decades. ANY indexed mutual fund would have done that, and ANY indexed fund would have shown significant growth since 2010 when the DJIA was at only 11000. So how is NVPers going to keep generating 8% growth every year to fund its payments to teachers and firemen? Why don't you open an account at Charles Schwab or TD Ameritrade and try and make your money grow 8% every year? And incidentally, the DJIA lost 200 points today on it's worst day of 2013.

  13. Moreover, a state-commissioned study found that Nevada should be spending at least $140 million per year -- about 20 times as proposed -- to support its ELL students.
    This is a problem. If these children have lived here in Nevada since birth, how can they not know the language unless the parents aren't involved with their education? If they just moved here, are they here legally and if so why haven't the parents pushed them to learn the language?
    Seems to me lack of parental guidance and we are expected to pay for it?

  14. We're all so sick of you who are ignorant making remarks about how little we work, what a poor job we do, etc. I'd love to see any of you critics even try to do my job. It would be hilarious to watch.

    I'm from a state where education is funded better, and guess what? That state has better schools, overall.

    It's the average students I see really affected. Those students who will not try and work will not move forward one way or the other, and the high and well-motivated students with parents who care will move forward one way or the other. It's the average kids who are most affected by this state's low education spending. In states where there are reasonable business taxes (most states, as far as I know, but not Nevada), the education is simply better: supplies, teachers, buildings, programs, technology, non-teaching support staff, etc., etc.

  15. Could we see a relevant rally? For longer school days, for longer school years? Let's get into the things that will work. Dumping more money into broken public K-12 will only hurt us all.

  16. 50,000 illegal students and counting. We could spend all that money on OUR kids and do K-12 in a more comfortable manner.

  17. Please rally for the teachers.....

    "Pay us 12 months of pay for 9 months of work and we disdain being held accountable for student low student test scores and graduation rates".

  18. Roslenda,
    You are Lying. The number of undocumented immigrant children in our schools is close to 7000, NOT 50,000.
    With a total student population approaching 300,000 the percentage of undocumented students is only around two and a half percent. In other words, it's a non issue that only the ignorant or racist complain about.