Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Legislature 2013:

Skorkowsky, other educators press for more money to reduce class sizes

A parade of educators told legislative budget committees Saturday that more money must be poured into reducing class sizes in the elementary grades to help students advance.

“We have to restore class size,” said Pat Skorkowsky, interim superintendent of the Clark County School District. “Our teachers are asked to do more and more with less.”

An overflow crowd in Las Vegas attended the hearing, which was televised from Carson City.

Jeremy Christensen, a high school teacher in Clark County, called it child abuse when children are packed into a classroom.

Ruben Murillo, president of the Clark County Education Association, said the state’s distributive school account that funds education is unfair and that teachers are asked to do more with less.

James Guthrie, state superintendent of public instruction, said Nevada spends $8,000 per student, which ranks third or fourth from the bottom in the nation. But teacher salaries rank 15th- to 18th-highest, he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget allocates $320 million over the next two fiscal years to maintain the class sizes. However, there is no added money to lower the growing numbers in each classroom, the educators said.

Skorkowsky told the joint Senate-Assembly budget committees that the ratio in elementary schools is 34 students to 1 teacher. In grades six through 12, the breakdown is 38 students to 1 teacher.

Also, 1,500 more students are expected next school year, adding to enrollment of 311,280, he said. Mobile classrooms will be needed to handle the growth.

In addition, there is an estimate of more than 95,000 students who are classified as English language learners, but only an estimated 45,000 are being served, Skorkowsky said.

To keep up, Skorkowsky said the district has had to reduce its reserve money from 2 percent to 1 percent. And music and art classes may have to be reduced to provide money for lower class sizes.

“This scares me to death,” he told committee members.

State money to meet the 15-1 class-size reduction in the primary grades was reduced during state budget cuts. The state Department of Education presented figures that showed the class sizes in Clark County in 2013 were 21.2 in first grade, 21.5 students in second grade and 23.6 students in third grade.

The joint committees said on Monday that it would take up the issue of money for instruction of students who speak limited English.

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  1. I don't think anyone disagrees that more money is needed for education. Smaller class sizes would be great. But, number 1 is where will the money come from? Number 2 is that unless the money is protected from being used for pay raises and perks, the Unions will be back next year asking for more money to do the same thing. Once money is put into education the money then becomes available for an Arbitrator to dole it out to Union members as pay raises. Therefore if the Legislature and Governor have the money to put into education for smaller class sizes, that money needs to be protected by law to prevent it from being used for other purposes.

  2. Once the unions and other anti American forces are gone, I would be willing to talk about additional money. If that can't happen then charge the the anti American UNIONS and their thugs a 50% tax on all income, after all its their FAIR SHARE.

  3. #Nvleg #nved #nvteach Our community needs to keep showing up. #Vegas money needs to stay in #Vegas to fund our schools. We cannot keep being the last in funding in a state last in funding and then scream at teachers like they do NOT work. Teachers are NOT to blame for any of this financial mess.

    85% of the total state revenue comes from the south. The south must fund and educate three quarters of the state's students with 50% of the education fund. 311,000 kids and their families pay the whole state's bills with our skill and labor. Yet, rural Nevada receives MORE for their children? Why isn't a student in Vegas worth as much as a student in Eureaka? Or Elko? Why can't Vegas money stay in Vegas since we need it for our kids? Our schools should be funded first until the North begins to vote to raise revenue. The money to run this whole state comes from Vegas but our children must sit in portables with class sizes over 30? Our Language Learners fail across the board because they have no support? We are told to continuously to do more with less - while some parts of this state haven't experienced the recession at all? The North doesn't want to share their mining proceeds but demands Vegas pay Nevada's bills? How generous!

    Enough is enough. Contact your legislator and tell them - Vegas money needs to stay on Vegas. We need it for our kids.