School Funding Adequate - For Now

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While Nevada lawmakers enjoy a recess from a stalled special session, the state's school districts are making plans to begin a new fiscal year without full state funding.

A couple of weeks ago we were hearing that schools might have to close and employees sent home if the lawmakers didn't settle on a funding plan soon.

Is that going to happen?

It appears not.

Whatever problems the legislative standstill is causing, school districts are managing . . . at least now.

Says district spokesman Steve Mulvenon: "The message we want to get across is that we won't have to close down July first and we will be able to reopen our multi-track schools on July 7th."

The topic this afternoon in Mrs. Jones' 3rd grade class at Alice Smith Elementary was Helen Keller. The story of a great American's struggle to overcome handicaps might hold some lessons for school district officials as well in the days ahead.

When the lawmakers went home after 130 days of regular and special session they still hadn't passed a revenue plan to fund the state budget or pass the principal state funding plan for schools.

That means district officials were facing the handicap of planning a new school year without the certainty of state funds.

There was the fear classes like those at multi-track schools, might have to close.

For the moment - at least - that won't happen.

The district staff has prepared a plan which will be presented to the school board tomorrow night. The details of that plan or how they might be received by the trustees isn't known.

But, as the district taps other funding sources, classes will continue.

That's not to say the legislative deadlock isn't causing problems. The district can't offer contracts to new teachers until funding is certain - and soon that inability will cause problems.

"The last thing we want to do is to have x-number of people signed and under contract before we know if we have the money to pay them," Mulvenon says.

For the time being at least, Liz Tiffany-Jones will continue teaching and her kids learning.

Late August is a deadline that can't be fudged with any interim solution.

If the Distributive School Account is not funded by then, the district wouldn't be able to meet its payroll. No one expects things to drag on that long.

Of course, few expected state and school funding to be unresolved at this point either.