Nevada Considers New Formula

Last Updated: September 28, 2010

This article appeared in the September 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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The Clark County, Nevada school district has sent a proposal to the legislature asking for the revision of the state’s school funding system. In Nevada, requests for drafting may be made by legislators, legislative committees, the Governor, state agencies, and local governments. A staff attorney for the Legislature then prepares a formal draft of a bill.

The funding formula, known as the Nevada Plan, only recognizes two categories of students: those receiving special education services, and those who are not. Clark County School District, home of Las Vegas, wants more assistance in meeting the needs of English Language Learners, students in career/tech prep programs, and gifted and talented students. Their proposal would also add additional categories of students in special education and direct funding according to the degree of their needs.

Nevada provides a basic per-pupil guarantee, equalized in order to provide for variations in educational costs and local wealth. Districts are grouped according to large, centralized, rural, and small categories. The per-pupil amount is adjusted according to costs of education in each district. Currently, the Nevada Plan also includes a “hold-harmless” provision to protect districts during times of declining enrollment, an issue for many rural Nevada districts.

Nevada is one of the few states in the country that has never been sued over its school finance system, and supporters of the current formula point to this fact as evidence of the Plan’s soundness and success.

Nevada still has a relatively high local share of education funding compared with other states, primarily due to mineral resources, which the formula takes into account.

Rural Nevada districts have several challenges not supported by additional funding in the current plan, including the highest rate of rural household mobility in the country, a high percentage of rural English Language Learners, and high transportation costs.

Because of the state’s current budget deficit of $3 billion, many rural districts fear that any additional funding for Clark, one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing districts, will come at their expense.

When initially passed, the Nevada Plan was accompanied by a mass consolidation of the then-200 districts into 17 county-wide districts. There has since been interest in de-consolidating some of these districts.

Read more:

Local coverage of proposal:

Editorial calling for new plan:

Flowchart and detailed descriptions of Nevada’s state funding mechanisms:

Additional background on Nevada’s system with rural perspective:

Why Rural Matters 2009 Nevada rankings:

Every district in the state except Clark loses under the number weighting system of Title I:

Read more from the September 2010 Rural Policy Matters.