States

State Legislators Revamp Funding in Texas, Nevada

By Daarel Burnette II — June 18, 2019 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Legislators in Texas and Nevada were ahead of the pack this year in passing bills to revamp the way school spending is distributed, a fiscal and political puzzle that continues to vex state lawmakers across the country.

The stable economy, surpluses in many states, and single-party control seemed to make it a ripe political environment for legislatures to consider new funding formulas. But many states, including Ohio, Idaho, and Massachusetts ran into technical and political hurdles. While Ohio and Idaho finished their legislative session without overhauling their formulas, Massachusetts’ legislature is still debating its funding formula.

The political and fiscal dynamics in Texas and Nevada, on the other hand, were different this year.

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, since the beginning of his tenure, had promised to lower property taxes, and a 2016 state supreme court decision relieved the legislature of keeping in place its much-criticized “Robin Hood” funding formula, which takes money from property-wealthy districts and redistributes it to property-poor districts. While the state’s high court said the funding formula that was just replaced was insufficient in getting all its students to meet bare-minimum academic standards, the court also said it was solely the legislature’s role to control the state’s purse strings.

The new funding formula, signed by the governor last week, will increase the state’s education budget by 20 percent to $11.6 billion. It will raise teachers’ pay—by what amount varies by district—underwrite free full-day pre-K for eligible 4-year-olds, and reduce the amount of money wealthy districts have to contribute to poor districts.

It does not include a proposal suggested earlier this year to pay districts more money based on academic performance.

The state will foot more of the education bill in order to reduce local property taxes.

Nevada Changes

Nevada’s legislature, which until this year had the nation’s oldest funding formula, also made major changes to that formula in a bill awaiting the governor’s signature. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is expected to sign it. The state this year is under Democratic control.

The state cobbles together money for its schools from dozens of funding streams, and that has made districts’ budgets increasingly unpredictable over the years with little transparency for where the money was going.

The Clark County school district, which includes Las Vegas and is one of the largest in the nation, has for the last several years dealt with a budget crisis and again this year faces a $33 million shortfall.

The bill approved in the recently concluded session will pool all the state’s money for education into one pot and distribute those funds to districts based on the needs of the student body. The measure, known as Senate Bill 543, does not have a dollar figure attached to it. An 11-member panel of politicians, educators, and experts would oversee the distribution of funds over the next year.

But the bill has already drawn widespread disappointment in the education community, which for years has protested the state’s dismal school funding and academic rankings. The state spends on average $9,300 per student, far too little for students’ needs, advocates say.

The bill “failed to enact any real change and does nothing to solve the issue of supplanting K-12 revenue sources,” Educate Nevada Now, a school funding advocacy group said in a statement. “We are completely ignoring the recommendations from the state’s own numerous studies, and instead, are opting only to reslice the same inadequate funding pie and forgoing any real future commitment to increased funding.”

A version of this article appeared in the June 19, 2019 edition of Education Week as State Legislators Revamp Funding in Texas, Nevada

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States How States Are Testing the Church-State Divide in Public Schools
A new order to teach the Bible in Oklahoma is the latest action to fuel debate over the presence of religion in schools.
7 min read
Image of a bible sitting on top of a school backpack.
Canva
States Lawsuit Challenges Louisiana's New Ten Commandments Law
Opponents argue that the law is a violation of separation of church and state and will isolate students.
3 min read
A copy of the Ten Commandments is posted along with other historical documents in a hallway of the Georgia Capitol, Thursday, June 20, 2024, in Atlanta. Civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit Monday, June 24, challenging Louisiana’s new law that requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom.
A copy of the Ten Commandments is posted along with other historical documents in a hallway of the Georgia Capitol, Thursday, June 20, 2024, in Atlanta. Civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit Monday, June 24, challenging Louisiana’s new law that requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom.
John Bazemore/AP
States The Surprising Contenders for State Superintendent Offices This Year
Two elections for the top education leadership job feature candidates who have never worked in public schools.
8 min read
North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler announces the gathering of a task force to look into future options the state has for the assessment of students during a press conference May 8, 2015, at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D.
North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler announces the gathering of a task force to look into future options for student assessment during a press conference May 8, 2015, in Bismarck, N.D. Baesler, the nation's longest-serving state schools chief, is running for a fourth term, facing opponents with no experience serving in public schools.
Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP
States Does a Ten Commandments Display in Classrooms Violate the Constitution?
Louisiana is poised to become the first state to require all schools to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms.
7 min read
Human hand holding a magnifying glass over open holy bible book of Exodus verses for Ten Commandments, top view
Marinela Malcheva/iStock/Getty