Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2015

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School superintendents call for long-term funding strategy, more money

Nevada education officials called for more education funding today at a meeting at the Legislature.

But they stopped short of embracing a business margins tax proposal that will likely go before voters in 2014 and would earmark $800 million for education via collections on a tax on business revenue.

“We don’t know that that’s the right tax or revenue source,” said Pedro Martinez, Washoe County school district superintendent.

The state teachers’ union has endorsed the tax proposal, but superintendents declined an endorsement and instead said they’re happy legislators seem to have changed their tenor from cutting education spending to spending more on education.

Absent Dwight Jones, Clark County School District’s outgoing superintendent, the group generally called for more funding for education.

"We need to give people hope," said Bob Dolezal, White Pine County's superintendent, describing teachers who have taken pay cuts, accepted salary freezes and worked long hours as budgets have been cut. "They are fighting the good fight, but they are wearing out."

The Nevada Association of School Superintendents called for more funding to help English language learners and students in poverty, reduce class sizes, provide more early education opportunities, and institute teacher pay-for-performance plans.

"We can't talk about addressing ELL and students in poverty with existing dollars. We have to talk about additional dollars. An equitable distribution of inadequate dollars is still inadequate," Dolezal said.

While such proposals have the support of both Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Democratic controlled Legislature, the superintendents declined to say whether they preferred the governor’s $135 million plan or the Democrats’ $310 million plan.

"I feel good that there is more than talk," Martinez said. "The governor proposing more money, that's a good first step."

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