State of NevadaClass-Size Reduction Program
StateBoard of EducationNovember 16th, 2017
The1989 NevadaLegislature enacted the Class-Size ReductionAct (CSR) in Assembly Bill 964,as a means to reduce pupil-to-teacher ratios in early grades where core curriculum is taught. Funding was first provided in fiscal year1991.The original bill prescribed ratios of 15 pupils per teacher inprimary grades (kindergarten through grade 3).In 2005, SB 460 and Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 388.720 introduced an alternative plan, which grants higher pupil-to-teacher ratios to allow districts more flexibility in implementing class-size reduction in districts whose population is less than100,000.This plan provided for ratiosof 22:1 in grades 1 through 3, and 25:1 in grades 4 through6.
History - Continued
In 2010 during the 26thSpecial Session, the Nevada legislature enacted the “Plus-Two Program” in response to fiscal tension stemming from the recession. This allowed districts to increase class sizes in grades 1 through 3 by not more than 2 pupils perteacher.The 2013 SpecialSession enacted AB 2 whichincreased class size ratios from 15:1 to 16:1 inkindergarten and in grades 1 -2 and pupil-teacher ratio of 18:1 in grade 3.The 2015 Legislature eliminated the “Plus-Two Program”, and in recognition of the financial hardships associated with returning to the statutory ratios of 16:1 in kindergarten and grades 1-2 and 18:1 in grade 3, approved funding for student-to-teacher ratios of 17:1 in grades 1 through 2, and 20:1 in grade three.Under the Plus-Two Program, funds that would have otherwise been used to achieve the class sizes set forth in SB522 must be used to minimize the impact of budget reductions on class sizes in grades 4 to 12.
Program Updates for FY18-19
SB544 introduced during the 79thLegislative Session prescribes ratios of 17:1 in grades 1 and 2, and 20:1 in grade 3 for those on the regular plan.NRS 388.720 prescribes ratios of 22:1 in grades 1 through 3, and 25:1 in 4 through 6, as applicable.Ratios will now be measured at the school level and district level, and will be measured to the second decimal place.Beginning in FY19, the Department will fund at the student-to-teacher ratios at the level associated with the type of class size reduction program implemented per Legislative intent.Quarterly reporting of CSR expenses will be required in order to track associated costs. Unused funds will be required to be reverted to the State General Fund at the end of each fiscal year.
District Functions - CSR Plans
In order to receive CSR funds, a districtmustdo two things:File a plan with the Superintendent of Public Instruction describing how the CSR funds will be used to comply with the required ratios per SB544 sec.15 (79thLegislative Session).This plan includes the projected number of variances expected for the school, as well as define the process by which the district utilize the funds provided to reduce class sizes.Demonstrate that, baseline ratios established prior to the start of CSR are maintained with allocations other than those received from the State Distributive School Account for class size reduction.
Baseline class size ratios were established in the years 1988-1990, and must be maintained with general fund teachers.Non-CSR funds are paid on a per-pupil basis and are adjusted to cover the rising teacher costs under DSA basic supportpayments.Most of the CSR funds are intended to pay for the ongoing cost of existing teachers added in previous years.As you can see below, almost all of the CSR funds provided served to maintain existing CSR positions, rather than reduce class sizes further.
Source: 2016 Performance Audit Report, page 9.
District Functions - Quarterly Reporting
On or before August 1, November 1, February 1, and May 1 of each year (NRS 388.725), the board of trustees of each district shall report to the Department for the preceding quarter on enrollment and pupil-to-teacher ratios of the grades covered by their plan.Each district shall post on the district website (NRS 388.725):The information concerning average daily enrollment and classsize ratios foreach elementary school in the district as reported to the Department; andAn identification of each elementary school in the district, if any, for which a variance from the prescribed pupil-teacher ratios was granted by the State board.
District Functions – Variance Requests
Each school district that includes one or more elementary schools which exceeds the ratio of pupils per class during any quarter of a school year must request a variance for each such school (NRS 388.700(2)).The district shall provide the reasons for the request and the justification for exceeding the applicable prescribed ratio of pupils per class .Examples include, but are not limited to, facility limitations, difficulty hiring, lack of available funding, fiscal neutrality.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction, shall approve a regular district plan for class-size reduction if the plan (SB544 sec.14, 79thLegislative Session):Reduces the district’s pupil-teacher ratios; andIs fiscally neutral.The Department shall, on or before Nov. 15 of every year, submit a report to the Governor’s Finance Office and the Legislative Counsel Bureau reporting:The number of teachers employed, the number of teachers employed to attain prescribed ratios, the number of pupils enrolled, and the number of teachers assigned to teach in configurations other than self-contained.
The Department shall develop policies and procedures for (NRS 388.723):Distribution of programguidance.Allocation and distribution ofprogramfunds.Monitoring of district CSR plans and effectiveness.Collection and reporting of district quarterly CSR reports.Variance request screening and reporting to the State Board.Communicating with the board of trustees of each school district regarding the use of distributed funds.
State Board Functions
The State Board*shall approvean alternativeCSR Plan ifit (NRS 388.720(3)):Reducesthe pupil-to-teacher ratio in the elementary schools;andIsfiscally neutral, such that the plan will not cost more to carry out than a plan that complies with the prescribed/fundedratios.TheState Board, in consultation with the trustees of the school districts, after receiving comments from the general public, shall determine the data that must be monitored by each school district and used to measure the effectiveness of the planimplemented (NRS 388.710).* Recent history has been that the Department has approved alternative plans on behalf of the State Board. In light of recent review, this function will be returned to the State Board.
State Board Functions - Continued
The State Boardmaygrant a school district a variance from the limitation on the number of pupils per class for good cause, including the lack of available financial support (NRS 388.700(4)).The State Boardshall, on a quarterly basis, submit a report to the Interim Finance Committee on each variance requested, and if approved, an identification of each elementary school and the specific justification for the variance (NRS 388.700(5)).The State Board shall, on or before February 1 of each odd-numbered year, submit a report to the Legislature on:Each variance requested by a school district, an identification of each school for which a variance was granted, and the specific justification.The data reported to it by the various school districts including the current pupil-teacher ratios per class in the grades specified by the district’s plan (NRS 388.700(6)).
In the event the State Board determined that good cause for a class size variance did not exist under NRS 388.700(4), it could deny a district’s request for variance. The district wouldthen need to hire additional teachers to further reduce its class sizes to the required levels or be found to be out of compliance with the law.Irrespective of a variance approval from the State Board, there appears to be no statutory authority to withhold CSR funding for grades 1 through 3 from districts.