Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) said he plans to donate his entire salary for the duration of his four-year term to public schools in his state.
In tweets and an official statement on his website on Wednesday, the first-time governor said he would donate his salary every fiscal quarter to the Nevada Department of Education’s Education Gift Fund.
“I asked the people of Nevada for the chance to lead this state for many reasons, chief among them being the opportunity to improve educational outcomes for every child in every classroom in the state,” Sisolak said.
“To show my commitment to this goal, the First Lady and I are donating my net state salary back to public education,” he added. “It is my sincere hope that with these donations, I can begin to fulfill my promise to our educators, families, and children and make a positive impact on our public schools.”
Sisolak’s annual salary comes out to $163,474, the governor’s office told HuffPost.
Sisolak directed the Education Department to distribute the funds evenly among the state’s 416 Title I schools, which have some of the highest percentages of low-income students in the state, his office said in a statement.
Nevada this year ranked last out all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report, which measures states’ education performance. The report is based on things like school finances and K-12 achievement, as well as an index that estimates how likely a student is to be successful in life as an adult.
Education Week, a nonprofit that has published its Quality Counts rankings for over two decades, uses nationally available data that can sometimes lag by several years.
But the issues facing Nevada’s public school education system are ongoing. Sisolak made improving the state’s schools a focus of his 2018 campaign, but some advocates say his funding proposals have fallen short of what’s necessary.
A study commissioned by the state Legislature and released last year determined that “adequate funding” would amount to $9,238 per pupil.
The state currently allots $5,897 per pupil, and getting that up to the recommended base funding level would require over $3 billion annually in additional funds.
Sisolak’s budget proposes increasing per-pupil funding to $6,052 in the 2020 fiscal year and $6,116 the following year. The budget also allots $242 million to raise teacher salaries by 3%, as well as a 2% merit-based raise.
Overall, Sisolak’s budget would increase state funding to K-12 schools by $156 million.