WINNEMUCCA - As the legislative session continues to progress, our legislators are weighing a staggering number of bill drafts which address a number of varying topics. At the forefront are the varying issues relative to education.

Recently, the majority of superintendents in Nevada, as well as various school board members, converged on the legislative building to speak to the importance of adequate funding for education and to support the iNVest document.

2013 marks the 10-year anniversary of the initial iNVest proposal. iNVest was designed to be a blueprint for improving the face of education in the State of Nevada. Many things have changed from the initial proposal submitted 10 years ago, when many others have not.

In the wake of the worst recession in Nevada's modern history, our schools continue to receive some of the lowest per pupil funding levels in the nation even while class sizes continue to rise, student demographics pose increasing challenges, innovative educational programs have been cut, and school capital budgets for many districts have been depleted.

Ten years ago, in 2003, the superintendents and school board members of Nevada's 17 school districts banded together to collectively answer the question, "What is needed to improve student achievement in Nevada?" Ten years later, Nevada's school superintendents find themselves posing the same question, and - to a large degree - responding with the same answers provided a decade ago. The primary tenets of the original iNVest document still ring true today:

• Districts must have adequate basic support and previous budget reductions should be restored.

• Districts must have the capacity to attract and retain an effective work force.

• Instructional time and educational opportunities for students must be increased.

Ten years later, students who were entering kindergarten when iNVest was introduced are now preparing to exit high school. These students face more rigorous standards than ever before, they need to have more competitive skills than ever before, and they face a reality that is far more challenging than ever before.

As our legislators deal with a myriad of different issues, it is also important they understand that Nevada's school districts have a well-defined plan to improve the quality of instruction, increase the competitiveness of students and deliver on the promise that every Nevada child deserves a quality education.

So how has education in Nevada changed over the past ten years?

• Student population growth has outpaced growth in the number of teachers - between 2002 and 2010, Nevada's student population grew by 18.3 percent while the number of teachers grew by only 16.1 percent. This has led to increasing class sizes.

• Nevada continues to lag the nation in terms of K-12 education funding - over the course of the past several years, Nevada's per pupil spending has fallen from 86.3 percent of the national average to 84.6 percent.

• The demographics of the student population have become increasingly complex - the total number of students in the free and reduced lunch program increased from 132,129 in 2003 to 226,647 in 2011, or from 34.4 percent of all students to 51.6percent. Growth in the number of students with disabilities and limited English proficient students has also grown.

Understanding that not everything can be accomplished in one legislative session, Nevada's superintendents have provided a plan that is obtainable over the next 10 years. The key elements of this plan include:

• Districts must have adequate basic support and previous budget reductions should be restored.

• Districts must have the capacity to attract and retain an effective work force.

• Instructional time and educational opportunities for students must be increased.

iNVesting in a brighter future during uncertain times is a hard thing. Nevada Governor Sandoval said we cannot cut our way to student achievement, we cannot tax our way to student achievement, we must grow our way to student achievement. iNVest provides a blueprint for such growth - growth in effective programs, growth in effective policies, and even growth in effective funding.

Dr. David Jensen is the Superintendent of Humboldt County School District. He can be reached at (775) 623-8196 or at djensen@humboldt.k12.nv.us.