Published on 2012/08/31

Nevada’s Funding Formula Proposes Drastic Changes

Nevada’s policymakers ended a trying period of strife last week when they agreed to adopt a new funding formula proposed by the Nevada System of Higher Education.

The major sticking point facing the adoption of the new funding formula was the weight being assigned to particular courses. On the recommendation of its consultant, SRI International, the committee gave greater weight to classes such as upper level mathematics and sciences, allowing the model to move forward.

The new formula allows Nevada’s seven colleges and universities to keep control over their own tuition and fees, allocates general fund money based on institutional mission and course offerings and rewards institutions that have higher graduation rates.

This formula informs the budget that the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents will be submitting to state Governor Brian Sandoval in September. The budget will redistribute $362 million in general fund money across the state’s higher education institutions. However, while the University of Nevada at Las Vegas would see its funding increase by nearly $2 million under the plan, rural colleges will receive the brunt of the new funding formula’s cuts. This will be dealt with through additional funding aimed at alleviating growing pains and allowing institutions some time to adapt to the new model.

Senator Ben Kieckhefer, a committee member, told the Las Vegas Sun News the committee’s recommendation to allow the colleges a break during the transitional phase should not be misinterpreted as an additional request for money from the state.

“It’s a statement by this committee that it’s concerned about the sizable fiscal hit community colleges are taking under the new formula,” Kieckhefer said. “They need to be given some time to adapt to this significant drop in funding. … This was not, by any stretch, a statement that we need to shove a whole bunch more money into higher education.”

System Chancellor Dan Klaich, who originally proposed the budget and funding formula, said that while his plan addressed long-standing equality issues across the system, the nature of the cuts led to hostility across the bargaining table.

“This hasn’t been a friend-making project,” he said during his presentation to the regents.

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