By Mark Hernandez & Bob Conrad
Hundreds of educators gathered Saturday for a rally at Reno City Plaza to demand better funding for education from the Nevada legislature.
“Don’t tell me that education is a priority in Nevada – it is not,” Calen Evans, Washoe Education Association president, said. “You cannot look at anything objectively and tell me that education is a priority in our state when you are the bottom 5% of districts funded in the entire country.”
The plaza was filled with teachers, students, staff, administrators and families. Many were holding signs highlighting what they said was a dire lack of funding by the Nevada Legislature.
In contrast to a similar rally four years ago, school board trustees and the Washoe County school Superintendent Susan Enflield were in attendance. One trustee in 2019, Ellen Minetto, said she was told by school attorneys board policy prevented her from attending the rally.
Most trustees attended today’s demonstration.
Enfield was vocal about what she said was woeful funding levels by the state.
“Shame on us,” she said in reference to a teacher she met working a second job at a restaurant just to pay for her masters degree in education. “We have a compensation study that shows [educators] in the Washoe County School District [are] paid 23% below the market value. That is unacceptable.”
Among the six speakers, one was a McQueen High School student, who explained how much school means to her and that her teachers are what keep the school running.
“They hold our world’s future in our hands,” Carmina Aglubat said.
Evans brought the crowd to applause multiple times by saying that the legislature keeps prioritizing education even though Nevada continuously underperforms on the national stage. He said that the state should be embarrassed at how little it funds education.
Enfield said she will do everything she can so that the legislature is aware of how much funding the district really needs. She stated she will fight like hell alongside all of the people there and all the educators she can.
Nevada spends less than $10,000 per student whereas other states, like New York, spend around $25,000 per student, according to this report by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2022.
“Nevada K-12 schools rank 48th in spending and 44th in funding,” according to the Education Data Initiative.
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