Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Nevada earns D+ on education

The annual "Quality Counts" report card is out from Education Week, a Washington, D.C. Based journal, and once again Nevada earned a D+ grade.

As this morning's meeting of the Legislative Committee on Education got underway, Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, said the report left her with a feeling of "sadness."

The committee, which Parnell chairs, is meeting today to discuss Gov. Jim Gibbons' proposed 4.5 percent cuts to K-12 education.

Even before a single cut is made, Nevada ranks 45th in the nation in overall per-pupil spending, according to the new "Quality Counts" report.

"We had just started to turn a corner in education," Parnell said. "The question is, where do we go from here?"

It's standing-room only at the Sawyer Government Building for the video-conference of the committee meeting, which is being held in Carson City.

School district officials, including Clark County Schools Superintendent Walt Rulffes and Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault are expected to testify.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault told the Legislative Education Committee that the cuts to K-12 funding would actually amount to $92.5 million, not $96 million as previously estimated.

That's because fewer students than predicted showed up for school this fall, which means the state's per-pupil payments are lower than anticipated.

The state's superintendents believe the enrollment savings are $29 million this year and $59 million for 2008-09.

Parnell asked why those savings are not being applied to the cuts.

Rheault said the bulk of the enrollment savings had already been factored into the governor's formula for deciding how much would need to be cut from the budget.

"I don't know about everybody else, I have a lot of discomfort with that theory," Parnell said.

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