Martinez: Legislators Seek Return on Educational Investments - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Martinez: Legislators Seek Return on Educational Investments

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Like so many parents and students, the Nevada Legislature went school shopping this year. They spent $328 million to hire teachers and decrease class sizes through third grade. And another $30 million to expand full-day kindergarten and $33 million paid for English Language Learners.

Just a few new dollars to go along with a new school calendar.

Of course, we have all heard it said, 'money doesn't bring happiness' but will it bring better academic test scores?

Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez promises the price tag will bring a return on their investment.

"What I want to show the legislators two years from now and our community, is the impact those dollars are having," said Martinez. "I want them to see the fact we are going to continue our success. With that, we will have ammunition to continue to advocate for more funding."

Martinez mentioned results. So far, he admits, they aren't where he wants them.

According to Common Core Standards, Nevada continues to place near the bottom in comparison to the rest of the country. "Our state, unfortunately, didn't make some of the tough decisions other states did ten plus years ago."

For example, Martinez said Massachusetts and Maryland started seeing better test results about ten years ago, the same time they started preschool programs and funding full-day kindergarten.

Something Nevada just started this year.

"The average cost per student is about $16,000 in Maryland, for example. It's $20,000 in New York, and $20,000 in Massachusetts. We are spending $8,000. That's just a fact."

Martinez said despite lack of funding, the district is beginning to show signs of improvement. He said test scores in Washoe County aren't as bad as the rest of Nevada.

"The annual graduation rate for the country is at 77%. Nevada's is at 63%, so we are literally in the bottom 10%," said Martinez. "Our graduation rate in Washoe County was 69% for the class of 2012. I can tell you right now, it's going to be higher this year. It will be a record number."

To see the entire interview, watch my weekend show Face the State. 

It airs tomorrow at 8:30pm. The show also airs on Saturday at 4:30am, 3:30pm and 8:30pm and Sunday at 6:30am.

Written by Chris Ciarlo

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