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SCHOOLS:

School District expects to save $1.1 million in reorganization

Changes include eliminating five regional superintendent offices

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Justin M. Bowen

Superintendent of Schools Walt Rulffes discusses the reorganization of the administration of the Clark County School District Friday at the School District offices in Las Vegas.

Updated Friday, May 8, 2009 | 5:56 p.m.

Superintendent of Schools: Walt Rulffes

Superintendent of Schools Walt Rulffes discussed the reorganization of the administration of the Clark County School District Friday at the School District offices in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

The Clark County School District expects to save $1.1 million a year from an administrative reorganization that shrinks five regional districts into four and eliminates another office.

The district’s 340 schools will be organized into four areas, each with an area superintendent, Schools Superintendent Walt Rulffes said. The changes will go into effect July 1, he said.

Each of the current five geographic regions were broken up and combined into the four new service areas. For example, Henderson, which had been fully included in the Southeast Region, was split between two areas, with one half of Henderson combined with downtown Las Vegas and the other half and Boulder City included with eastern Las Vegas.

Ten positions were eliminated, including a regional superintendent position and two assistant superintendent position – all six-figure jobs – two coordinators and five support jobs.

The move comes as state funding for education appears headed for more cuts.

The School District already made cuts of $133 million to next year’s budget, which begins July 1, and prepared to trim another $120 million after Gov. Jim Gibbons sought to cut teacher pay by 6 percent. Schools were asked to plan for only 97 percent of their usual staffing in the new year.

The Legislature has talked recently about cuts to teacher pay of 4 percent rather than 6 percent, but the latest economic outlook also showed another shortfall of state revenue of up to $900 million over the next two years.

The $1 million saved in the reorganization is in addition to those earlier cuts, Rulffes said. It may not be much compared with the shortfalls, he said, but it is a 20 percent cut in the regional administration offices.

The changes should not result in more layoffs than the 600 support jobs that have already been eliminated, Rulffes said, though in reassignments, someone could lose a job. The School District employs the equivalent of 24,000 to 25,000 full-time people and educates 300,000 children, Rulffes said. Ninety percent of its budget goes to labor.

The administrative cuts are in response to a request by the School Board to re-examine the regional offices, School Board President Terri Janison and member Deanna Wright said. It is in response to criticism that the School District has too many administrators.

“I believe the superintendent is trying not to reduce services to students and be responsive to the community when they say the administration is too top heavy,” Wright said.

Janison said the five geographic regions had been providing good service to parents and schools, but the School Board had asked Rulffes to see if there was a way to make them more efficient.

“He listened to us and took a look at it,” she said.

The School District has been talking to its four unions about possible wage concessions, but with the Legislature still working on funding, it is premature to say much, Rulffes said.

“All compensation issues are negotiable,” he said.

In the reorganization, magnet schools, empowerment schools and career and technical academies, which had been part of the Superintendent’s School Division Office, will be overseen by the Instruction Unit, Rulffes said.

Behavioral schools for students who have been suspended from regular schools will continue to be overseen by the Educational Services office, and special education and other special needs programs will continue to be overseen by the Student Support Office, district spokesman David Roddy said.

The benefit of the reorganization is that the four service areas are more racially and economically balanced than the five geographic regions had been, Rulffes said.

“It was getting out of balance before,” he said.

Rulffes said students should not see any effect from the changes, but the public may not find the School District as responsive as it had been. And, he said, things like mail delivery within the School District and the number of truant officers may suffer.

The financial situation remains shaky, Rulffes said, but if the School District gets more money from the Legislature than it expects, the administrative positions would not be restored. The money would be used first to restore cuts to schools.

“I think we have a long way to go,” he said. “It’s getting pretty thin on administration, but we always look to cut in administration before in the classroom.”

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