When we cover education stories in Nevada, a question we get frequently is, “where is the pot money?”
Nevadans know a portion of money from cannabis sales goes to schools. They know it’s something they may have voted for, or against a few years ago. And it’s often the go-to solution when we talk about issues with funding schools.
But does the marijuana money make a big difference with funding education in Nevada? How much do schools actually get?
"In the governor's recommended budget for 2022, heading into the education fund is approximately $90 million and for 2023, approximately $95 million," said Jason Goudie, Chief Financial Officer for the Clark County School District.
Goudie explained that the problem isn't the amount of money that is coming from cannabis sales but the way education funding is divided up in Nevada.
It is based on a funding formula that hasn't changed much since it was first established in the 60s, Goudie said.
Under the Nevada Plan, as it is known, school districts turn in funding requests based on the previous year's budget with adjustments for enrollment numbers and other factors.
The state then fills up that budget bucket with all the different tax resources that it has collected.
"What happened was that the education funding included now marijuana tax, and say, in 2022, there is an additional $90 million available so that just helped fill up the bucket of required spend for K-12, but it didn't necessarily increase the amount of funding for K-12 education," Goudie explained.
The Legislature is working on changing that formula to resolve the problem and allow for increased funding for schools in need, but lawmakers are taking a phased-in approach to the problem, he said.
Nevada's education system has long been one of the most underfunded in the country, Goudie said, but exactly how underfunded is a tricky number to understand.
There is optimal funding and there is adequate funding for education, he said.
From there, multiple studies have looked at what is adequate funding for the school district. Goudie said when you compare what the state says and what consultants say, it is a very large figure.
"It's around about $1.5 billion more that we need in our state educational fund in order to, essentially, get to what this quasi-definition of adequate is," he said.
Goudie said the state needs to increase the funding by $100 million a year over the next 10 years to get to that mark.
Jason Goudie, Chief Financial Officer, Clark County School District
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