Las Vegas Sun

February 1, 2015

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District official: School system needs ‘fed’ with money

Joyce Haldeman

Joyce Haldeman

With a few weeks to go before the February convening of the 2009 Nevada Legislature, Clark County School District Associate Superintendent for Community and Government Affairs Joyce Haldeman said she has been pushed over the edge by budgetary issues.

"We either have to lower the level of services we provide to children or increase taxes," she said to the group of parents and administrators gathered Wednesday at John R. Beatty Elementary School for School Board Trustee Carolyn Edwards' monthly F-Troop meeting for District F constituents.

For those who do not wish to, or cannot afford to pay higher taxes, the message sent to the Legislature needs to be that expectations need to be lowered, she said.

Haldeman, who will soon travel to Carson City to lobby on behalf of education, said she will resist getting involved with the debate of how to change the tax structure, but will request that the state find some way to generate more funds.

She said she will visit the legislators with a message.

"The education system in Nevada is a hungry baby ... crying because we need to be fed. We don't care what formula you use to feed us. Just feed us."

For Haldeman, the realization that the tax structure needs to be changed came some time in between the town hall meetings held by the district in November to discuss the budget cuts and Gov. Jim Gibbons' proposal to cut 6 percent from the salaries of state workers, university professors and teachers.

"Every person up there was articulately and passionately defending programs," during the town hall meetings, she said. "And it just hit me, 'You know what, I've had enough of this.'

"And when we got the news of the 6 percent, I had a personal meltdown, that was it," she said.

As teachers' salaries are under contract, Haldeman said she has not doubt that if the 6 percent salary cuts are approved by the Legislature, the school district will find itself in a lawsuit.

Aside from that, it's a moral issue, she said. She urged attendees to think about all of the teachers that have been recruited to come to the district under the promise of an expected amount on the paycheck, she said.

Beatty gifted and talented education specialist Peter Kelleher foresees dire consequences in the form of the loss of a lot good teachers if salaries are cut.

"A lot of these teachers are on the edge," he said.

Haldeman said she realizes the question of raising taxes couldn't have come at a worse time considering the state of the economy, but that there is no way the district can keep budget cuts from harming the classroom.

"The question is do you prefer to cut services to students or an increase in taxes?" she said.

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