NBC News3: Clark County Schools Cut Spending 29_NBC3_cutting_spending_for_education

March 15, 2024 10:57 AM


1. This finding came from a new public schools audit from the governor’s office that said spending more money on education isn’t always the answer. This came as a shock after the state increased education spending by an historic $2.6 billion last year. What exactly did the audit say about spending?
The audit, which came from the governor’s finance office, said how much money is spent on education isn’t the only factor on how well students learn.
The governor said he found this finding “a little disturbing,” seeing as the state just spent all this money. Before people say let’s claw back that money, we don’t need it, there are other numbers that look very bad for Clark County.
Because Clark and Washoe are the two largest districts in the state, the report focused a lot on these two districts, and compared them to other districts around the country.
The report found that Clark County Schools and Washoe County schools “both invested the least amount of general fund instruction dollars per student when compared to the other districts of similar size.”
It compared CCSD to Broward County, Miami-Dade County, LA and Chicago — those districts spent far more per student than CCSD did.
CCSD spent $7,194 per student, compared to between $8,500 and $10,800 in the other districts, even after cost of living adjustments.
But it found that “[Clark County schools] student achievement compares favorably with similar size urban districts that participated in the Trial Urban District Assessment.”
The audit looked at math and reading assessments for grades 4 and 8 and found that “Chicago and Los Angeles spent significantly more than [Clark County schools] and achieved mostly lower ranking results.
This is where the audit got attention: “These results evidence [that] the amount of funding spent is not the only factor affecting student achievement levels.”
BUT Clark County schools also had the lowest graduation rate of 81% compared to the similar districts for school year 2022. (the other districts ranged from 82 to 89%)
So what the report is saying is that it’s not a direct correlation on all metrics that as spending goes up, so goes student achievement.
2. The audit also noted how poorly students are reading all over the state – what did it recommend?
Statewide, less than half of students are meeting the proficiency goal and are at risk of being retained in the future.
It repeated a few times that third grade reading proficiency is the greatest predictor of future academic success.  
If a child falls behind in third grade, they will struggle to catch up in reading and other topics as well.  A child who can read on grade level by third grade is 4X more likely to graduate by age 19.
Nevada only has a goal of getting 43% of third graders at or above reading level by 2025. That’s far lower than other states — Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Indiana and Utah are all well past 43% now — and their goals are in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 100% goals
Reading proficiency in third graders in Nevada has declined, not improved and Clark County schools are currently at 40% proficient.
The report recommends that Nevada Dept of Education asks the state legislature to allow it to hire literacy specialists for district schools that receive a 3-Star rating or below.
This is an example of where the audit points to specific spending areas that will make a difference.
3. The audit had a lot to say about transparency and public schools not properly reporting what they’re spending. What did it recommend?
“Most school districts did not comply with statutory public reporting requirements” They’re supposed to report their spending quarterly, and three-quarters of them aren’t doing it.
CCSD is one of four districts that actually follow this law and report their spending quarterly.
Here’s the silly thing — these quarterly reports have to be printed in a newspaper that’s published in the county, or one close by. That’s not something that people would think to check in the classified section.
The report said that’s outdated and expensive and suggests the statute needs updating to expand acceptable public notice platforms to include things like the agency’s website or official social media account.
Finally, the audit found that more than half of the schools have financial reports that have conflicting numbers. Their Annual Comprehensive Financial Report often don’t jive with the annual report required by state statute.
“Ensuring the amounts tie between the reports will ensure accuracy and increase public confidence in fiscal accountability of public education.”
The report made several recommendations on how to better track how state education dollars are being utilized, including establishing a unified statewide accountability system, that doesn’t currently exist.


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