The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2004 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
The legislature approved a $2.2 billion K-12 budget for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years—a 18 percent increase over Nevada’s previous two-year budget.
“Overall, it was a good year for education,” said Keith W. Rheault, the state superintendent of schools. “It’s about as good as we’ve fared in the 10 years I’ve been going to the legislature for the department of education.”
Legislators set aside $12 million in continued funding for teacher signing bonuses, $22 million for full-day kindergarten, and a new pot of $10 million for teacher mentoring programs. They also appropriated an additional $92 million, including $78 million in new money, to support remedial education and outreach programs, according to Mr. Rheault.
Funding to give teachers who work in low-performing schools an extra 1/5 retirement credit for each year of such service more than doubled in this session, to $53 million. To qualify, teachers must have worked in such schools, or those with 65 percent of their students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches, for five years. The measure, which affects nearly 6,000 teachers statewide, received $19 million during the last biennium.
Meanwhile, Gov. Kenny Guinn, a Republican who is serving his final term because of term limits, won approval of his plan to salvage the Millennium Scholarship program. Legislators adopted a plan to cap at 12 the number of eligible credits the scholarship pays for, and to raise to 2.75 the grade point average that student recipients must maintain in the second year of college.