Per pupil funding at Clark County School District

The 2015 Legislative session provided substantial new investments in targeted funds for school districts. But how did general operating budgets fare?

This infographic highlights the Clark County School District’s experience.

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  • The primary funding mechanism for K-12 education is called the Nevada Plan, which includes State and local revenue. Each school district has its own basic support guarantee per pupil, which varies substantially throughout Nevada. The statewide basic support guarantee increased from $5,676 in fiscal year (FY) 2015 to $5,710 in FY 2016.

    Each school district’s guarantee is calculated based on historical costs. Smaller school districts have higher basic support guarantees than larger districts due to proportionally higher fixed costs. This figure shows the change in the basic support guarantee for each school district from FY 2015 to FY 2016. While the guarantee increased for most school districts, three school districts experienced decreases: Clark County, Mineral County, and Storey County. The Clark County School District’s decrease was $15 per pupil.

    While the basic support guarantee is the largest funding source in each district’s unrestricted General Fund, school districts also receive local tax revenue outside of the basic support guarantee.

    Hover over the bars in the chart to see the basic support guarantee for each school district.

  • The General Fund is the main operating fund of a school district. Categorical funds for special programs such as special education, class size reduction, and Zoom Schools are outside of the General Fund. This figure illustrates Clark County School District’s General Fund revenue from State and local taxes from FY 2012 through FY 2016. Only a portion of local tax revenue goes towards the basic support guarantee and the remainder is outside the guarantee. The local revenues inside the guarantee are: (a) 1/3 of property tax revenue; (b) 1/3 of net proceeds of minerals revenue; and (c) the Local School Support Tax. The remaining revenue sources are outside of the guarantee. The largest revenue source outside the guarantee is 2/3 of the property tax revenue.

    The previous figure showed that Clark County School District’s basic support guarantee decreased by $15 per pupil from FY 2015 to FY 2016. However, this figure reveals that Clark County School District’s per pupil revenue from State and local taxes is projected to increase from $6,559 in FY 2015 to $6,589 in FY 2016. This represents an increase of 0.46 percent. This amount, however, is insufficient to cover inflation, which is estimated to increase by 1.49 percent from 2015 to 2016. On June 29, 2015, the Clark County School District adopted budget reductions of $66.9 million to bring projected expenditures in line with revenues.

  • This figure compares basic support per pupil to total State and local General Fund tax revenue per pupil from FY 2012 through FY 2016.

    FY 2016 marks the first year during this period that the basic support guarantee has decreased. In contrast, total State and local General Fund tax revenue per pupil has increased annually.

    After adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, State and local tax revenue increases that occurred from FY 2013 through FY 2015 represent increases in real dollars. However, the increase from FY 2015 to FY 2016 is smaller than projected inflation and represents a decrease of $92 from the previous year in constant FY 2012 dollars. This helps explain why the school district projects that it cannot sustain current costs in FY 2016 and approved $69 million in budget reductions on June 29, 2015.

  • Is it possible that the Clark County School District will have more General Fund revenue than projected in FY 2016? There are a couple of ways that resources could be higher than anticipated. First, if local revenues outside the guarantee are higher than budgeted, per pupil revenue would increase. Second,  if FY 2015 expenditures are less than anticipated, the ending fund balance could be higher than estimated. These additional funds would carry over into FY 2016. This figure reveals that in some years, the actual ending fund balance has been very close to the projected ending fund balance. However, in FY 2014, the ending fund balance was $40 million higher than anticipated.

    If the ending fund balance for FY 2015 is higher than projected, these funds may be available for additional expenditures in FY 2016. The District has a board policy stating that the unassigned ending fund balance should be 2 percent to provide a cushion for unanticipated events. The District has been unable to meet this goal over the past five years and estimates that the FY 2016 unassigned ending fund balance will be 1.75 percent.

    Once the District has closed its books for FY 2015, it can reevaluate its fund balance to see if some of the budget reductions made for FY 2016 can be reversed.

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