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Inside Education S19 Ep25 | Legislative Wrap

Inside Education S19 Ep25 | Legislative Wrap

On this special
extra edition of Inside Education, we look at education
issues addressed during the 80th session of
the Nevada Legislature. What happened
in Carson City, and how will it affect
students in Clark County and the rest
of the state? We sit down with
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara and talk
to panels of experts about funding,
the funding formula, school safety
initiatives and more. Inside Education,
the “Legislative Wrap,” starts right now. “The cornerstone
of education “is getting to know
a student first.”We want to make sure
that we’re supporting
families and students.“I think the
community should know “that their voice counts.”Our students have
all the potential
in the world.♪♪♪ Thank you
for joining us for this special
Legislative Wrap edition of
Inside Education. I’m your host,
Mitch Truswell. The 80th session of
the Nevada Legislature adjourned on June 4,
and education funding once again was
a central issue. Lawmakers agreed to
modernize an education funding formula
that has been around for about 50 years
and allocated some extra dollars
for education as well. But is the money
enough to ward off a teacher strike
and keep cuts out of the classroom,
and what does modernization
really mean? What changes
will you see in Clark County
classrooms and when? During this program,
we’ll hear from a variety of voices
breaking down what happened
in Carson City: A lawmaker
at the heart of the funding
formula bill; an analyst who has
crunched the numbers; a parent with a group
who watched this process very closely
as well as experts on school safety,
a sergeant from CCSD Police and
a school psychologist. We begin with Clark
County School District Superintendent
Dr. Jesus Jara. Dr. Jara, this was
your first legislative session. You’ve only been
superintendent for about a year now.
-Yes, almost, June 19. -Right, so your first
legislative session. Thoughts now that
it’s over? (Dr. Jesus F. Jara)
We got through it,
you know, it was a good process. I mean, a good learning
experience for me. I was up there a couple
times, not too often, but the team
did a great job. It was a little bit
interesting and different from
what I’m used to. I’ve been in Florida
for so long and I’ve also worked
in the state of Massachusetts,
so now I can say that I’ve worked in
three different states and worked with
legislatures. It was a little bit
of a different process, but it went well. -Different in a bad way? -Well, just different, you know, when you’re
coming from two states that go in session
every year. There’s a lot of work and
the session is shorter. There’s a lot of work
done in 120 days, so it was more intense. What I would say is
there’s a lot more interaction with
legislators here which is positive,
because you have good relationships
and you can do a lot of great things. So it was just
different. -Okay. Is there anything
that surprised you? -Yes. Everything towards
that last weekend, a lot of things,
all the things happening and changing, and that was
a bit surprising. I’m like do I need
to be up there or be down here? But the team was doing
a great job up there, so I just stayed in
constant communication. So I’ll tell you what,
that Friday through that Monday
night at midnight, it was in my office,
at home on the kitchen counter just working
and paying attention, so that was a bit
surprising. Everything comes
to the tail end and everybody goes
home at midnight. So it was interesting. -So funding, as has been
the case for many years, is obviously
the big issue for the School District, for education in general. How do you feel about
where we stand now and what was received
from the state? -You know, look,
I tell you, from what I’m hearing, was it
perfect? No. I was a little bit
disappointed coming towards
the tail end. That Tuesday morning
after the dust settled, I was, because we still
have to make cuts. I have to make $17-
or $18 million. But everybody
is excited because we did better than
previous sessions. I think from listening
and hearing, you know, education is everybody’s
top priority. I said well,
then it should be, so let’s fund it. But once the dust
settles and everything, you start looking
at our budget. Did we do better?
Yes.But the District
still fell about
$17 million short,leading to an
announcement this week
via video to cut
170 dean positions
in middle
and high schools.
Dean positions at all
middle and high schools will be eliminated
indefinitely. It is our hope that we
will be able to retain many of the 170
outstanding members of our family by
repositioning them back into
the classroom, though any cut means
substantial losses for our schools. Placing them back into
teaching positions is the only silver lining
to this incredible loss. I want to be very clear: This decision was
not made lightly, and I believe
all the advocates for education and
those elected leaders who are
fighting for change would like to avoid
this from occurring.Part of a dean’s
are discipline
and safety issues.
Just a few days prior
to the announcement
about the deans,
we sat down
with CCSD Police
Sergeant Bryan Zink
and school psychologist
Dr. Katie Dockweiler
to talk about extra
money for safety issues
provided by the
state legislature.
Sergeant Zink,
you also don’t know exactly how much
money you will have to make improvements
to the department, but what kinds of
things could we expect or should we expect
will happen, or do you know? (Bryan Zink)
Well, if we do get
additional funding, I know one
of our big goals is to hire
more officers. More officers
in our department means more officers
on the street and more officers
servicing our schools. Our current goal
is to have two campus officers
at every high school and one per
middle school, or one officer that
would share a couple of middle schools,
and then of course increase our elementary
school patrol program. We’d like to add
more officers to our canine team.
-You’ve got four. -We have four now,
and we’d like to add four more,
but of course there’s costs
associated with that. -And training for
those dogs as well. -A lot of training,
exactly. And then if we could
also expand our traffic bureau. We have four officers
and a sergeant who currently go
out on motorcycles and patrol
around the schools and respond
to accidents and things like that,
so of course we’d like to expand
that program. -Are the random
searches primarily at high schools? -No, high school
and middle schools. -High school and
middle schools, okay. School-based mental
health professionals that’s school counselors,
social workers and psychologists,
what do they bring to the table in terms
of adding security? How do they
help security? (Dr. Katie Detweiler)
Those three school-based
mental health professionals can
add preventative measures to schools. If we’re preventative
in the approach that we take
to students, whether it be
through internalizing behaviors such as
anxiety or depression or externalizing
behaviors, we can help to ensure
they make good choices and have the
resources they need so they make
good decisions when it comes to
security down the road. -And also being able
to spot that student that may be having
trouble but the teacher maybe is dealing with
so many other things they don’t have
the attention that a social worker
or counselor would do to bring those
issues to light and to find out more.
-Absolutely. Through systems like
a multi-tiered system of support,
we can provide those social, emotional
and behavioral interventions,
identify the needs and provide
the interventions in a timely manner
to curtail some of those issues
down the road. -So from your
perspective, they’re very central to
keeping schools secure and knowing
about the students and what’s happening
with them. -Absolutely,
very critical.Still, many are
concerned about cuts.
On the CCSD website,
you talk about some of the gains there. So it’s $154 million
additional that will be coming to CCSD
in the 2019-2020 year, and there will be
additional money the year after that. I think what probably
is a surprise to people is you’re getting
more money, but now we’re talking
about making these cuts. Why is that and
can you explain that. -Yeah, and we had to
put it all out there because it–
and the question that the numbers
kept on changing. And this was a little
bit of a frustration for me because we were
very consistent with our numbers
from the beginning of session
of what we needed. -In terms of this is
what we need? -Absolutely,
and we presented to our board on April 3
a balanced budget. So the challenge
then becomes, or became for us,
it was well, when you look at raises
for all the employees, that’s when you say
okay, well, then here’s in
totality what we need because we have
increased costs. So what was coming in
from the state– I’ll simplify it
a little bit, you know, just as we continue
to say, simple math. So we had
increased costs, so we used from the DSA
original projection that we were looking at
was about 55 to 70 and, you know,
that’s a big number but still in the large
scheme of things, a $2.4 billion budget, it’s not a big
difference. So we were looking at
what we were going to receive according to
the initial DSA numbers, but we’ve had an
increase in costs. So PERS, which
is a retirement, with an increased
cost there. Our two new schools that
we don’t get funded for, that’s also an increase,
not the building but the operational
aspect of that. Then you look at our
special ed needs for our students and,
you know, we’ve seen an increase in needs
for our children. That’s not funded,
so that’s another $17 million there. So what we’re
looking at– so that was
covered within what we were
going to receive. So then here comes on
this side the commitment from the governor
that we agreed with. There’s a 5% cost
for employee raises, so then where does
that money come from, and that one is what
we were communicating with the legislature,
that’s great but we need to have
the funding. So that was $100 million for just the 3%
and the 2%. That gives us
$60 million for the 3%, and the 2% roll-up
which is where you move in the salary schedule,
that is $40 million so that’s $100 million. Then you look at the
healthcare increased cost. Because we’re looking
at projections, initially– -And that goes up
every year. -Initially we were
seeing $20 million, but then our team
negotiated it and really worked
with our providers and got it down to
about a 5% increase so that’s $111 million
extra that we needed. That gives you the 155, and we landed about
$17 million– in totality
in the biennium we landed about
$35 million short, so that’s where now
we have to go back and cut the budget.Another funding issue
was the modernization
of what’s known
as the Nevada Plan.
Here to talk more
about SB 543, the plan to modernize
the decades-old funding formula
for K-12, is State Senator
Joyce Woodhouse; Jeremy Aguero,
a principal analyst with Applied Analysis, and Rebecca Garcia
from the parent group CCSD Parents
who have been watching funding discussions
very closely. Welcome to all of you. State Senator
Woodhouse, I want to start
with you. How important was it
to you to modernize this funding formula
this session? (Sen. Joyce Woodhouse)
It was very
important. Senator Denis and I
had been involved back in 2014 with
a study committee that the
legislature provided, and Senator Denis chaired
the overall committee and then I chaired
a tech committee and worked with CFOs
both present and retired from
school districts and city and
county governments. Our task then was to
look at weighted funding for our ELL students,
our special ed and our children who live
at the poverty level either below or
just barely above. You know, I started
teaching back when the Nevada Plan
was first designed, that was my first year,
and our classrooms, I had first graders. My classroom was
totally different from our
classrooms today. -Smaller?
-Well, no. Actually I had 34 first
graders every year. But the demographics
of the population was different,
and our city and our county
has grown actually, and Nevada has changed. The Nevada Plan, we’ve
made tweaks with it over the years
particularly with the rural factor,
the urban factor, things like that,
but never really addressing the changes
in our students, and that was important
because we were losing kids, not reaching
the achievement levels they should because the
resources weren’t there. And frankly when
you try to explain the Nevada Plan, nobody could
understand it. It was really, really
hard to explain, so that was
one of the reasons. Then after
the 2017 session, the Nevada Department
of Education had the Augenblick
study which kind of galvanized Senator
Denis and I saying, we have to do this now. So we persevered
and met with Dr. Canavero, who
is the superintendent for public instruction,
and started down that path of
looking at what the Augenblick study said,
where we needed to go and then again to relook
at the weights because we really wanted to
address those students. -Did you ever think that
it wasn’t going to pass? -I am a person whose cup
is two-thirds full, and I believed
it was going to. I can tell you though,
there were some times that, you know,
it was– it was a much
harder task than I ever dreamed
it would be, and I just have
to say up front that if we didn’t
have the support of Dr. Canavero
and now Jhone Ebert, the new
superintendent, and the most important
person of all is Jeremy Aguero
to make sure that we walked
through this the way that
we needed to. Senator Denis and I
just tried to help make the decisions
as we went along based upon
the information that was coming in
from Jeremy’s work. -Jeremy, so now we have
a new funding formula. So parents
sitting at home, what does this mean? What does this
mean to them? (Jeremy Aguero)
Well, I think it means
a number of things. I think first and
foremost it means that we’re putting
children first relative to how
we fund education. I think that’s a
really important point, and I think
that’s exactly what the senator was
just talking about, all of the work
that came before. I think we have
a funding formula, and what it means
is we now have a funding formula
that recognizes that the resources
that are needed for children are
not always the same, that preparing a child
for college or career is not always uniform
and needs a formula that reflects that. I think what it also
means is we’re now going to have discussions
about a formula that are going to happen
in public, right, not behind closed doors,
not formulas that happen in a back room somewhere but that happen in public
with the contributions of the Nevada
Department of Education, the school districts
themselves and so forth
and so on. You know, the other part
that I think it means is we all have
to respect the fact that the legislature
and the governor are dealing with
a finite amount of resources, right? However, other than
extraordinary circumstances,
what the legislature and the governor
committed to in terms of intent is making
sure that education is made whole on
a go-forward basis, that we’re not going
to be diverting funds from that anymore. I think one of the
other things it means that’s really important
is the formula should no longer
be an impediment to having a conversation
about education adequacy on a go-forward basis. That’s been a really
hard thing for us to do because every time
we talk about how much we should be
spending on education, we’re all
concerned about where those
dollars are going. That transparency issue I believe has
now been addressed. -That’s my
question for you, Senator Woodhouse. So is this
the first step? During the next session,
I guess, will you be taking up the cause
that we need to fund education better
than we do now? -I think a whole
lot of us will be talking
about that. And as we said,
you know, this new funding formula
is the first step in the path down
the road to make sure that we are funding
our K-12 schools and our students in
the way that we should. We do have to talk about how do we take
that next step. This is the first one,
had to happen before you can start putting
additional monies into a funding plan,
and that was why it was important
to have a plan that we could design
that we knew where the money
was going to be and where it
was going to go. And the number
one thing, and Jeremy has said it
over and over, the money follows
the students so we know the
student is getting the resources
he or she needs. -Rebecca, from
your perspective, we’ve got the
funding formula now. What would be
your next step? What else do you want
to see legislators, the state and the
District do next? (Rebecca Garcia)
Well, I think as has
already been said, this formula revision
was an absolute first step,
but the reality is we need to
allocate more money. We need more resources
to adequately serve all of our students
in Nevada. The other thing
that as a parent gets very challenging,
and I understand it’s a different view sitting at the
legislature sometimes, but this new
modernized formula won’t go into
effect for two years, so my now-7th grader
will be a 9th grader. Then we have
the discussion about potential new
monies in two years, and those might take two,
four, six, ten years. So realistically the
additional dollars that are needed
to support our kids in the best way possible,
my son may graduate without ever seeing them. I’ve already graduated
one from CCSD who never saw
the benefits of for example
the IP-1 Room Tax because it kept
getting transferred. So as a parent, that’s
really my frustration. It becomes–
it’s easy when you’re not looking a child
in the face and thinking of how fast their
education goes. So when I talk
to legislators, when I talk to anybody,
that’s always my thing: Waiting sounds
reasonable, but we have
to also recognize that the more we wait,
the less children will receive the
services they need. -Senator Woodhouse,
what would you want the public to know about
what should come next? What should be
leading the thinking on how we improve
education in the state? -Well, I totally agree
with what has been said regarding additional
resources. We all know that we
need to work on that. I think one of the
things that concerns me, we have the new
funding formula and it’s designed
so we’re addressing the needs of all
of our students, but the other thing
that I think we need to look at is
going back to what I was talking about
in the very beginning, our children
who are ELL students, our special ed students,
our GATE students and our children who are
at the poverty level, they need additional
resources in order
to be successful. Their teachers need
more resources in those classrooms, and we need to find
a way to do that. We have the weights put
into this new formula as we have had in the
past with categoricals, but our categorical
dollars never addressed all of the students in
those various categories such as ELL, only
a portion of them. All of those students
need all the resources in order for them
to be successful.Dr. Jesus Jara
agrees the changes
are an important
first step.
From a parent’s
perspective, the change in
the funding formula, as you talked about,
it’s going to really help us educate
the students that need more funds
to educate them. How does that trickle
down into the classroom? -Well, the money will
follow the classroom, so now the money is going
to go into the schools. -So these particular
students, to help them achieve,
we need these materials or this time.
Explain that. -It will follow them
with some money. If you have students
with special needs and you have
ELL students– we have 55,000
ELL students– those schools will
receive more funding, you know, special needs,
the GATE students because they
cost you more money. Right now everybody
receives the same amount. In the future, now you’re
going to have more kids. So if you have 10
or 15 ELL students in your school or
in your classroom, that school
will get more money. -And the school will
decide how best to use it? -Correct, the school and
their SOT will be able to make the decisions
to where the money goes. -Okay. In general
there’s gotta be something
that you hoped for that you didn’t get in
addition to more money. -Other than money? -In addition
to more money. We know your
opinion on that. What else? -You know, our Handle
with Care bill passed which was great,
and this is the one that, you know, there’s
a trauma at home, then we’ll be able
to get notified. So that was
a great thing. -The people at
school will know and treat the
student with care. -Correct, and then
you can help them. Not to coddle them,
because I think one of the things is
just to understand. Our kids today are
facing adult challenges and we need to help them so they can
focus on the work. So we’re so
pleased with that. You know, all in all,
I’m calling a victory lap to be honest with you,
because I think, do you get
everything you want all the time?
No. But I think it
was a right step, and for my
legislative session, we’re going to take
the victory lap and finalize
some of the things that we didn’t
ultimately get. You know, at the tail end
I was concerned that the bill
for the modernizing of the formula
was not going to go as expected and
it was going to move into a different
direction, so I kind of worked
with the legislature to understand
what was going on and so it moved in the
direction where it landed. The money, it could
have been worse. It could have been
cutting $70 million. I think that would
have been detrimental to the school system. So $17 million, yeah,
it’s a lot of money, but I think we
will be in a place that we’ll be able
to keep it away from the classroom;
I feel confident there. Looking at the Read
by Grade 3, you know, looking at the safety,
there was some concerns and everybody
that’s been through the legislatine session
said Supe, relax. It’s going to be–
it’ll get there. You know, even AB 309
which is where the county has the
ability to raise a quarter of a percent,
that is also in partnership,
so it’s really calling for us
to work with others which will
eventually help us. You know, pre-K where
we’re pushing forward for early childhood
education because that addresses your
Read by Grade 3, the earlier
you get them. So you know, all in all,
I’m calling a victory lap on this
legislative session. So thank the governor and thank the
legislative leadership to get us
to where we are. -Although you have
a lot to be proud of, the District does,
education in general in the state, there
must be some things that you want
to tell legislators when it comes
to education. What would that be? -You know, that’s
a great question. I’m going
to tell you this: Next legislative
session, we need to address
class size. Locally for us
as a school system, when you look
at our class size, when you look at– -What is the
average class size? -Well, it all depends. I have in
the 40s and 50s, I have some
classes in the 50s for our
high schools, 51. I have in the 40s
and the high 30s in the elementary
and middle schools. So when you look at that
and at the state I came from, 18 in K-3,
22 in middle school, 25 to 30
in high school. Our kids are
at a disadvantage so when we’re
going to invest, let’s have a bold plan
to really address that, to address the
class size issue. I have to start
doing that, and I’m planning on it. We’re utilizing our
facilities to the best use. Those are things
that I’m going to start
addressing locally. But we really have
to have a bold strategy of how do we
then get money in the hands
of our kids? I think the funding
formula is number one, which is now how
do we fund that. Number two is the
instructional material support, the teachers,
really investing in people more than
just pay raises. I think pay raises
are important, but how do we
invest to keep them. And I think
as I move forward, how do we address
the class sizes which then gets into
the adequacy, right? That’s one thing
we didn’t touch is the adequacy of the
funding, of the base. That to me is when
you’re competing, and you know, I came
from Florida, $7,300 from the state
at the base compared to $5,700 that
we were getting. So the disadvantage,
and then you look at Massachusetts
at $23,000. You know, you look
at our Council of Great City Schools
report that we did, we’re the lowest-funded
urban school system in America,
so what is the base and the adequacy
of that funding? That’s something that– and I look forward
to the next legislative session to have
that conversation with our leaders
and building the relationship
with them. I think this was a first
great session for us, for CCSD but I’m looking
forward to the next one. -We’re going to leave
our discussion there, but we want to let you know
that all of our guests on this show had
a lot more to say which is why our
discussion continues online with several
web extras you can find on the Vegas PBS
website or YouTube page. We want to thank you
for watching. We’ll see you back here
for Season 20 of Inside Education
in August. ♪♪♪

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