Nevada’s Clark County School District (CSSD)—containing 357 schools—is the fifth largest school district in the country. Until recently, these schools were governed by a centralized authority. In May 2017, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill to reorganize the school district, giving principals and teachers decision-making authority.
According to Molly Davis of the Reason Foundation, “The funding of each school precinct [in CSSD], under this new framework, will be systematically better because the amount each school receives will be based on the number of enrolled students. A school’s allocated funding amount takes into account every pupil, and will include additional weighted funds for students who are low-income, English Language Learners or have a disability. This guarantees that the money a school receives will effectively be for each student, based on their individual needs.”
After two years of deliberations, Republicans and Democrats in Nevada worked together to pass legislation, which allows for a local organizational team including teachers, staff members, and parents. This team, along with the school’s principal, will make budgeting decisions. These new measures will begin in the 2017-18 school year.
The Nevada legislature is not the only government to propose student-based budgeting. An August 2016 proposal by the US Department of Education provides four ways for districts to demonstrate compliance with the funds-based requirement of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). One of these ways involves creating a weighted student funding formula.
“The language approved by the commission, passed with unanimous bipartisan support, puts the decisions that have an immediate impact in our classrooms directly in the hands of parents, teachers and principals, which is where it belongs,” Sandoval said regarding the district’s reorganization.
The reforms do not decentralize control of salaries and benefits of school employees, payroll, and accounting. According to Davis, “The plan should introduce some much-needed transparency in how school capital is allocated, and will account for students and their needs better than under the status quo. Despite the plan’s room for improvement, Clark County students will hopefully reap the benefits of more decentralized decision-making in the near future.”
According to the Reason Foundation’s Student-Based Budgeting Handbook, the United States is “in a transition period, moving from funding institutions to funding students.” During this transition period, other states and school districts should follow Nevada’s example by implementing student-based funding and decentralized control.
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Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Wisconsin Considers State REINS Act
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans examines a proposed REINS Act in Wisconsin and how it could help shrink the growth of government in Wisconsin. “It is important to remember the REINS Act does not prevent agencies from making new regulation. It is designed to ensure that any new rules with a major impact on the economy face scrutiny by elected officials, who are accountable to the voters. The REINS Act would be an ideal first step in shrinking the bloated bureaucracy in Madison,” Glans writes. Read more
UC Berkeley Drops Free Online Videos in Response to Government Threat
In this article for School Reform News, Higher-Education Editor Jane S. Shaw writes about the University of California-Berkeley’s removal of thousands of online lectures the school previously provided free to the public. The school removed these online courses, along with lectures from YouTube and iTunes, in response to the threat of a government lawsuit because the videos were not fully accessible to people with disabilities. According to James D. Gwartney, a professor of economics at Florida State University who is legally blind, audio material that does not provide a description of visuals is still very helpful. Gwartney believes that “the blind as well as others are made worse off when access is denied to materials unless they provide a descriptive audio of all visuals.” Read more
Energy & Environment
Research & Commentary: Lack of Pipeline Infrastructure Hurts Northeast Families, Businesses
In this Research & Commentary, policy analyst Tim Benson examines a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Industry. This report finds that political opposition to new pipeline infrastructure projects could lead to the loss of more than 78,000 jobs, $7.6 billion in GDP, and $4.4 billion in labor income in New England, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania by 2020. “Higher electricity costs disproportionally hurt low-income families, who naturally spend a larger percentage of their money keeping the lights on. Adding pipeline infrastructure would lower electricity prices, thereby raising living standards, stimulating long-term economic growth and creating a substantial increase in net jobs,” writes Benson. Read more
Research & Commentary: Michigan Should Reject Maintenance of Certification
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans discusses two proposals now being considered in the Michigan Legislature that would limit the influence of maintenance of certification in the state. “MOC certifications were designed with the intention of ensuring physicians are educated on the latest health research and methods, not to act as a profit center for medical board organizations. While a certain degree of certification will always be necessary, physicians should not be required to pass through a quagmire of costly and expensive tests that may be unnecessary. physicians,” Glans writes. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Common Core: Costs versus Education Performance in Kentucky
In this article, Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute compares education revenue during the last five years before Kentucky adopted Common Core to the revenue figures during the first five years of the state’s implementation of Common Core. Since Common Core implementation spending rates on public education in Kentucky have increased. Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show progress in “math and reading was being made much faster in the five-year period preceding adoption of the Common Core State Standards in Kentucky.” Read more