Nevada's Education Funding Gets Low Marks

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Nevada's funding for public schools grew the least of any state between 1999 and 2001, according to a national review of education quality.

"One of the lowest-spending states in the nation, Nevada ranks 48th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in education spending per pupil," says the 2004 Quality Counts survey by Education Week, a specialty newspaper exclusively devoted to education.

"Nevada has seen the lowest increase in spending for education of any state, with less than a 1 percent increase between the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 school years," said the report, released Wednesday.

That was enough to earn Nevada a D+ in the category of adequacy of resources, the lowest grade awarded Nevada in any of the five areas examined on the state report cards. Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida earned the same low grade for adequacy of resources. The time period examined didn't cover the state's record tax increase of 2003, much of which is earmarked for education spending.

Quality Counts also examined state standards and accountability; teacher quality; school climate; and the equity of resources available to public schools.

State Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Keith Rheault said Nevada's financial grade will rebound in Quality Counts when the 2003 changes to state funding for schools are factored in. Legislators approved $1.643 billion for the state education budget last summer, a 33.5 percent increase from the 2001-03 biennial budget.

"We'll look much better in 2004," Rheault said.

Nevada's other scores include:

-Standards and Accountability: B-, the same grade awarded last year.

-Improving Teacher Quality: C-, the same grade awarded last year.

-School Climate: C-, up from the D+ awarded last year.

-Adequacy of Resources: D+, down from the C- awarded last year.

-Equity of Resources: B, the same grade awarded last year.