Homeschooling in Nevada: The Budgetary Impact
Driven by parents’ beliefs that homeschool learning environments can be superior to those of public or private schools, as well as a desire by parents to spend more time together as a family, Nevada homeschooling has undergone remarkable growth during the past decade. Homeschool children in the state now make up about 1 percent of all school-age children.
Public school advocates have argued that homeschooling “costs” the school system money through lost per-pupil taxpayer funding whenever a child is homeschooled rather than public schooled. In fact, home school students benefit school districts in the long run by relieving them of the far greater total costs of educating them. In Nevada, these cost savings are well in excess of the “lost” state aid.
By not being educated in public schools, homeschool children either save taxpayers money, or make additional tax money available for other uses, including bolstering the educational opportunities for children who remain in public schools. Similar savings result from private school students. The present analysis measures the extent of this saving by estimating the additional costs that Nevada’s public schools would incur if home- and private school students were placed in public schools.
Based on 2003 data, the analysis shows an annual potential cost savings to Nevada taxpayers ranging from $24.3 million to $34.6 million attributable to homeschool students, and another $101.9 to $147 million attributable to private school students, for a combined total of $126.2 million to $181.7 million. This total amounts to an annual potential cost savings ranging from $327 to $471 per Nevada public school student.
Local educators should look at home and private school students as assets, not as liabilities. Because of them, Nevada public schools’ expenses decrease by a greater amount than their revenues decrease, producing a net gain. We calculate the net gain to local school districts to be between $25.9 million and $42.7 million.
Moreover, if taxpayers’ cost savings are used to enhance the educational opportunities of those students who attend public schools, the benefit to public schools would be even greater.