Tax increases to the tune of about $1 billion are being discussed in the Nevada State House to improve education in the state.
First term Nevada Assemblyman Chris Edwards, District 19, deserves credit for examining ways to reduce costs of education spending, rather than looking for ways to throw more money at schools. If money in increasing amounts would solve our schools’ problems, there should have been a turnaround long ago. Instead, tax money has been wasted and Edwards wants to reclaim those dollars.
Edwards cited a 2014 Legislative Counsel Bureau Audit Agency audit which showed a lack of accountability for $381 million theoretically spent on class-size reduction. Oversight, planning, and management of those funds were absent. Instead, Edwards believes that school districts should be required to have skin in the game and share the financial burden with the state in the form of matching block grants with accountability for improving the recommended programs. Savings could be as much as $250 million.
Another proposal by Edwards was to utilize substitute teachers in co-teaching situations, where they are the second teacher in an existing classroom. Since subs earn less than full-time teachers and don’t receive benefits, the state could save almost $300 million.
According to Edwards, phasing in full-day kindergarten over four or six years instead of two would save another $42 million and allow more time to implement properly.
Re-hiring of retired teachers at 150% of the current sub teacher rate would help solve the teacher shortage. For every 1,000 retired teachers, about $50 million could be saved by the state.
Using the DSA’s Workbook Formula, about $650 million more in the next biennium could be saved by classroom right-sizing. Research on results of class-size reduction is mixed. Reducing class sizes have not often resulted in better pupil achievement. Other factors are more critical. We need to identify those factors and improve our schools in the best ways possible.
Total savings of the above suggestions by Assemblyman Chris Edwards add up to about $1.5 billion. That would buy a lot of textbooks, classroom supplies, computers, “shop” classes, art classes, sports, and more.
Too often, we miss opportunities to let our legislators know that we appreciate their efforts. Don’t miss this one. Chris needs our encouragement to improve education without tax increases. If you wish to let your Assemblyman know your thoughts, please email him at: Chris.Edwards@asm/state/nv.us. Senator Joe Hardy should hear from you as well: Joe.Hardy@sen.state.nv.us. To email the Governor that you don’t want tax increases, go to gov.nv.gov/contact.
Linda Shannon graduated from the University of Wisconsin and taught school there for several years. She was co-owner of a manufacturing company in Colorado Springs and moved to Mesquite in 2013. She is presently a member of the Mesquite Republican Women’s Club.