(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
So during the recent Nevada legislative session, Nevada State Education Association President Ruben Murillo Jr. sent the above letter to the members of the Senate Finance committee. In the letter (in case you are squinting) he included the following paragraph:
However, the abundant number of overcrowded and aging campuses, high class sizes in middle and high schools, hundreds of unfilled licensed teaching positions, and an 81% non-compliance rate of the elementary class size limit law all point to the fact that Nevada’s public schools remain under-funded.
Well, that’s a little rich don’t you think? Especially given that the Digest of Education Statistics reports that inflation adjusted current spending per pupil more than doubled since 1969:
Despite this doubling of current funding, there can be no doubt that overcrowding remains a chronic problem in Nevada. National Public Radio recently profiled Forbuss Elementary school in Clark County. Architects designed the building for 781 students, but it currently has 1,230 students, spilling out into 16 trailers. The Nevada public school system has been unable to keep up with either physical or human capital needs-thus the unfilled public school teaching positions cited by President Murillo. In the same NPR piece, a teacher in Bertha Ronzone Elementary School reports having 33 students in an overcrowded trailer classroom.
Now my excel spreadsheet says that if you multiply 33 by $9,455 you get $312,015 in current spending, with more in capital spending. How do you
kill the bunny with these claws and teeth hire a teacher for only $312,015? Sounds like they at least should not have a series of substitute teachers going through those trailer classrooms. But wait, Murillo notes hundreds of unfilled teaching positions. What’s that? Overhead?!? C’mon you’re a BEAR man!
Of course, if you can’t keep up with enrollment growth, can’t build public schools fast enough, can’t hire enough teachers, and create trailer parks outside your schools for extra classroom space, well, you’ve got problems. If the Census Bureau further projects a huge increase in your youth population and the NAEP say you only get a fraction of your students proficient this actually makes an entirely compelling case for giving as much choice as possible. Apparently the Nevada public school system needs as much help as it can get.
So Silver State legislators:
NSEA: thanks for the assist!
Excuse me for being a math teacher, but if only 45-70k of that 312k goes to a teacher, On what is NV spending the remaining 78-86% of that cash?
I thought in most enterprises labor was 40% of your costs, at least. This smells like a lot of labor that’s not laboring, in the classroom specifically.
Saying an overcrowded classroom is underfunded should get a Fox Butterfield nod from James Taranto.
Indeed- it begs the question even more when sometimes those 33 kids are generating $312k but are in a trailer with nothing more than a series of substitute teachers. Where did the rest of the money go?
“Labor that’s not laboring, in the classroom specifically,” is exactly right. It’s a complicated story, but the headline on the story is that the huge increases in spending have gone to hire loads of new employees, who either are not teachers or (even stranger) are designated as “teachers” but don’t have a classroom. Needless to say, this new army of administrators and counselors and non-teaching-teachers has produced no improvement in school performance, but it has greatly increased the funding and (even more important) base of electoral support for the Blob.
So in other words “Broader Bolder” was simply old wine in new bottles
Yes, it was an attempt to accelerate the trend line we were already on. No hope for that now with state budgets where they are. The advance has been temporarily halted; the question is what comes next.
“However, the abundant number of overcrowded  campuses, high class sizes in middle and high schools, , and an 81% non-compliance rate of the elementary class size limit law all point to the fact that Nevada’s public schools remain under-funded.”
Interesting. I wonder if a law that made it easier for kids to go somewhere other than public schools would help with this “we have too many kids” problem that you describe.
“When any ratio of tax payer dollars, such as the 90% basic allotment for student proposed by SB 302 are diverted from public schools, costs rise for school districts due to fixed faculty, maintenance, operations, and personnel costs.”
No, see, I’m pretty sure that costs and revenues are different things. When revenues decrease, costs can _literally_ (I’m looking at you, Joe Biden) move in any (or no) direction. Is it harder to pay them? Sure. Do the ipso facto increase because revenues decrease? No.
Man, I’m glad people with this level of understanding of business don’t have any say in how taxpayer dollars get spent…