Commission on School Finance slowly coming together ahead of October meeting deadline

One person has been appointed and several others have been recommended to serve on the Commission on School Finance, the newly created body that will help guide the state’s transition to a student-centered funding model.

Senate Bill 543, which revamped the K-12 funding plan, established the 11-member commission and set Oct. 1 as the deadline for its first meeting. The inaugural members — who have started being appointed this month — will play a key role in determining how Nevada distributes money to school districts. 

Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus has appointed Dusty Casey, the chief financial officer of Oasis Academy, to the commission, according to a letter she sent state Superintendent Jhone Ebert on July 5. Oasis Academy is a charter school in Fallon. The letter states that Casey, the first member appointed, will serve a three-year term ending June 30, 2022.

The Nevada Association of School Superintendents also has recommended the four school district chief financial officers (CFOs), but their appointments are hinged on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s approval:

• Jason Goudie, Clark County School District

• Mark Mathers, Washoe County School District

• A.J. Feuling, Carson City School District

• Paul Johnson, White Pine County School District

The legislation gives the governor the power to appoint the commission chair as well as four school district CFOs nominated by the Nevada Association of School Superintendents. Two CFOs must be from districts with more than 40,000 students, while the other two must be from smaller districts.

Sisolak has yet to announce his appointments. 

“The work of the Commission to oversee the successful development and implementation of the new Pupil-Centered Funding Plan is critical, and the Governor takes his appointment of the Chair of the Commission very seriously,” Ryan McInerny, the governor’s communications director, said in a statement. “The Governor looks forward to announcing his appointment to the Commission, along with the four chief financial officers from the school districts who are nominated by the Nevada Association of School Superintendents, in the very near future.   

The CFOs nominated by the Nevada Association of School Superintendents all worked with analyst Jeremy Aguero during the crafting of SB543, said Mary Pierczynski, the organization’s governmental representative.

The Nevada Department of Education had not received any other appointments as of Friday, spokesman Greg Bortolin said.

The remaining commission members will be appointed by legislative leaders — two members by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, two by Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and one by Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer. 

Cannizzaro and Frierson did not return requests for comment. Settelmeyer said he has been reviewing several applications and discussing them with his caucus.

The appointment process hasn’t left all corners of the Nevada education community feeling included, though. 

Amanda Morgan, the legal director for Educate Nevada Now, a policy organization focused on equity, said the process has seemed shrouded in mystery. She said no one has reached out to ENN, which has long focused on reforming the state’s funding formula, even though the group has tried to be involved.

Ultimately, Morgan said she hopes the commission features members who are diverse in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, geography and opinion.

“The role of this committee is pretty intense and broad and these appointments are just so critical, and we’re just kind of in the dark on it,” she said.

Once all appointments are made, the Nevada Department of Education will organize meetings. The commission will be responsible for reviewing and recommending the statewide base per-pupil funding, the adjusted base per-pupil funding for school districts and the multipliers of weighted funding for various categories of students, among other duties.