Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2014

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Sun editorial:

Unkind cuts to schools

Proposals to trim programs, employee pay would only exacerbate problems in education

As the Clark County School District prepares to cut its budget yet again, Superintendent Walt Rulffes is making the typical rounds looking for places to trim $120 million. He has held a pair of town hall meetings to discuss potential cuts and clearly heard parents’ opposition to plans to reduce school programs.

He has also asked teachers, staff and administrators for help, wanting administrators to spread out a scheduled pay increase over two years and take an unpaid day off. Similar requests were made of teachers and staff.

As Emily Richmond reported in Tuesday’s Las Vegas Sun, the administrators union has told him no and Rulffes was still waiting to hear from the others.

It is understandable that Rulffes has asked for help — 86 percent of the district’s budget goes toward pay and benefits — but that doesn’t make it any less of a shame.

The proposal, which would help only minimally, will bring to a boil a simmering dispute between anti-government crusaders and public employees. There have been rumblings that there should be union layoffs because the members won’t take a voluntary cut.

Public education is a prime target for the government critics, who like to say “educrats” have failed and would have plenty of money in their budgets if only they rooted out waste. Those who say such things typically speak out of ideological ignorance. They have yet to show any real evidence to support their argument.

Of course, times are tough and the unions could gain some political capital by taking an unpaid day off. However, despite what critics say, it is well known that the school budget is a shadow of what it should be, and student achievement suffers because the state does not fully support education.

The schools have trimmed considerably. Now starting teachers, with college degrees and teaching credentials, are being asked to take a cut in their $35,000 a year pay? That’s ridiculous, especially when those teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies.

Further cuts to the schools, whether to educational programs, extracurricular activities or salaries, only hurt our students. Bleeding education isn’t the answer. Finding ways to properly fund education is.

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