Consultants: State needs at least $1.3 billion more for its schools |

Consultants: State needs at least $1.3 billion more for its schools

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Nevada should spend at least $1.3 billion dollars more a year on public education to meet a goal of having most students meet federal and state standards, a consultant told lawmakers Thursday.

The total suggested by Denver-based Augenblick, Palaich and Associates Inc. represents nearly $3,600 more per student each year for Nevada’s 415,000 public school students.

Under Nevada’s current funding formula, school districts get about $4,500 per year per student from the Legislature.

The recommendation prompted some ardent education supporters to express concern that lawmakers might ignore the suggestion because of the high cost.

“I am kind of upset with the number,” said Donna Hoffman-Anspach, leader of Nevadans for Quality Education. “It could be considered so ridiculous that no one will want to go there and it will end up on the shelf.”

“I question the premise that more money is the answer,” said Joe Enge, chairman of EdWatch Nevada, adding that the key to having students meet achievement standards is parental involvement.

They attended a meeting of the Legislative Committee on School Funding Adequacy to hear the suggestions on what the state needs to spend to meet required federal and other student achievement standards by 2013-14.

State schools chief Keith Rheault noted that the state must spend an additional $300 million during the coming two-year budget period just to cover enrollment growth. That money would have to be added on top of the Augenblick proposal.

Rheault added the Augenblick recommendations also don’t include school construction costs and spending on transportation and buses. He also questioned whether the No Child Left Behind Standards can be achieved.

“We operated under the theory you wanted that number,” John Augenblick said, adding that the state could achieve the 2013-14 goal by increasing current education spending by 5 percent, or $468 million a year for the next seven years.

While the findings call for full-day kindergarten across the state, pre- and after-school programs, Saturday and summer classes, the report does not specifically state how much these proposals would cost.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, asked legislative staffers to go through the report and come up with an analysis readily understandable for legislators and the public.

“If we are basing this on a wish list of educators, we need to translate it into a document the Legislature can understand,” added Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas.

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