Monday, Feb. 28, 2011 | 11:49 a.m.
CARSON CITY – Parents told a legislative budget subcommittee today that cuts to the public schools system would lead to more student dropouts and would harm the state's economy.
“This is the wrong direction for the state,” said Allison Turner, president of the Nevada Parent-Teachers Association.
Leslie Gilkey of Reno said she already has moved her two children to a private school because of overcrowding in public schools. She said she might move to another state with a better education system.
The testimony was in advance of a hearing at Green Valley High School this evening in which members of the public are expected to call for increasing the amount of money going to education.
The subcommittee considered Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget to allow school districts to make decisions on such things as class-size reduction and full-day kindergarten. He has proposed putting money in a single pot for school boards to decide where the money should be allocated -- but the amount of the money is cut back.
Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to the governor, said Sandoval has agreed not to convert to the new funding system until the second year of the biennium. He said districts wanted more time to assess the impact of putting money into a single pot.
Turner said Nevada already has the lowest financial support per pupil in the nation and the governor wants to reduce it by $500 next year.
Gilkey said the private school her children go to spends twice as much per student than the public school. Unless funding is restored to education, she said she wouldn't put her children back into the public school system.
Greta Jensen of Reno told the subcommittee that allowing additional students in classes would lead to more dropouts. “We need to maintain our current funds,” said Jensen, a member of the Parent Leaders for Education.
Turner said cutting back on public schools jeopardizes the economy and hurts efforts to attract new businesses.