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April 24, 2014

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education:

School District must cut another $19.9 million

With property tax revenues expected to decline even more sharply than earlier estimates, the Clark County School District must trim another $19.9 million from its operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

That was the somber message this morning at the Clark County School Board’s budget work session, delivered by chief financial officer Jeff Weiler.

The district has already outlined cuts of $120 million for the 2009-10 year, which comes on top of $133 million already lost through canceled programs, revoked grants and reduced services.

Employee salaries and benefits account for 89 percent of the district’s operating budget.

There’s “no more room to cut anywhere else other than personnel,” Rulffes said.

The School Board approved the tentative budget, with the understanding that staff would be submitting a plan to trim another $19.9 million.

“That’s the amount the (tentative) budget is out of balance,” Rulffes said. “We’re not home free on this.”

Any additional concessions the district can win from the unions in coming weeks, in terms of reducing benefits expenses, will “really mean saving jobs,” Rulffes said.

The district's tentative $2.1 billion operating budget was based on projected basic support from the state in the amount of $4,800 per pupil, a decrease of 3.2 percent -- $74 million -- from the current year.

Given that the Legislature has yet to finish its work, and the continuing shortfalls in the state’s revenues, the district needs to be prepared to see its per-pupil

allocation drop even further, Weiler said.

“In most normal years we have a pretty good idea by this time what our funding level is,” Weiler said. “Obviously, there are more variables at play this time.”

Schools will be staffed at 97 percent of projected enrollment levels, which will reduce the likelihood of layoffs in the fall if fewer students show up than expected. The move will also save $27 million in salaries and benefits.

The district is projecting enrollment growth of 0.7 percent, down from 0.8 percent this year. That would put the district’s enrollment at 313,688.

Statute requires the district to hold a public hearing on its proposed budget in mid-May and submit it to the state by June 8.

Included in the district‚s tentative budget:

*Eliminating 854 employee positions -- 209 licensed personnel, 592 support employee and 53 administrative. Some of the positions were vacancies that went intentionally unfilled as part of earlier cost-saving efforts. The district currently employs over 26,000 people, including 18,000 licensed personnel.

*Cuts of $35.5 million in administrative expenses along with 280 central office positions. That includes 56 jobs in the transportation and vehicle maintenance department, 48 from maintenance, 23 from human resources and 22 from student support services.

*Ending a teacher mentor program, for a savings of $2.7 million.

*Eliminating purchasing cards, given to new teachers at the start of the year, for a savings of $4 million.

*A 15 percent reduction in funding for athletics and extracurricular activities, saving $1.7 million.

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