Las Vegas Sun

April 23, 2014

Currently: 67° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

School Board critical of Sandoval plan to use $300 million for state budget

Board president says plan ‘tantamount to a tax increase’

Image

Justin M. Bowen / File photo

The Clark County School District administration building in Las Vegas.

Click to enlarge photo

Carolyn Edwards

Click to enlarge photo

Gov. Brian Sandoval addresses the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at a luncheon held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.

The Clark County School Board harshly criticized this morning a plan by Gov. Brian Sandoval to use $300 million in Clark County school construction bond money to help balance the state budget.

The board voted 7-0 to oppose the use of such money to balance the budget or "for any other purpose" not approved by voters in the original 1998 vote for the multi-billion dollar bond.

Overall, Gov. Sandoval wants more than $400 million reassigned in what are known as debt service reserves for school districts.

Jeff Weiler, the district's chief financial officer, said complying with the Sandoval plan would force Clark County to raise property taxes or go to the public markets with new higher-interest bonds that would be difficult to sell.

"This is tantamount to a tax increase," said Carolyn Edwards, the school board's president.

Board member Deanna Wright compared the move to a big brother stealing money from a little brother's piggy bank.

Linda Young, a board member, raised the possibility of joining with other Nevada school districts to sue the state over the move.

"This is unacceptable," she said.

John Cole, the newest board member, is a former member of the committee overseeing the $5 billion voter-approved bond. The reserves come from that bond.

"We're robbing Peter to pay Paul," Cole said, "we're robbing the future to pay the present."

There was some irony to the dispute because Dale Erquiaga, a former policy analyst with the district, is now a senior adviser to Sandoval and presumably played a role in his budget plan.

Weiler said selling such new bonds would carry higher interest rates and hurt the district's ability to maintain and repair schools. He said the district would be unable to pay minimum principal and interest payments starting in 2013.

Her voice breaking, Chris Garvey, a trustee, said, "How long do I have to tell my constituents to hold on" because renovation of older schools would be delayed.

Weiler replied, "We're only able to do break/fix maintenance," meaning if a major system like air conditioning breaks, it can be fixed. But carpet, paint and other repairs are done on a 17-year cycle.

Meanwhile, Weiler said the current proposed cuts were equivalent to $870 per student.

The district faces a deficit exceeding $250 million, Weiler said. The number includes a sharp fall in property tax and room tax receipts.

He said that if the deficit isn't eased, it would mean as many as 3,800 layoffs of teachers and other positions.

Edwards, president of the school board, said "for all of the teachers and support staff out there, this is not what we're going to do." She acknowledged "rumors are already running wild."

The district must prepare a tentative budget by April, when layoffs would begin, and a final budget by May. The legislature won't approve a final budget until June.

At the same time, the district must negotiate new contracts with teachers, administrators and support staff.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 4 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. It makes no difference if the population is less now than what was to be expected when the bonds were originally sold. The fact of the matter is, this money is meant for school construction. That DOESN'T mean that the district has to build entire new schools, though they could, but could use the money to expand/repair existing schools. If you take that money away, repairs/expansions can't be made.

    This issue is no different from the State trying to steal money away from the clean water inititive that Clark County had money set up for the pipe to bring in water. The state taxed businesses (The M Resort was the largest contributer) specifically to fund this project, and then cancelled it. The state then stole the money to put into the general fund, with the M Resort immediately suing to get its $40 million back. And who can blame them?

    I'm like most people: I want a balanced budget, an increase in growth, and fiscal responsibility. But nothing that this Governor has proposed, so far, is going to help our future. You can steal all the money in the state for right now, but it does nothing to solve tomorrow's issues of having no money.

    Face it: There is no realistic way to balance everything without budget cuts, and tax increases. Stop the waste, spend SMARTLY, and don't wager your children's future on your generations idiotic misdeeds.

    And for the love of god, no more MORONIC statements about cutting Teacher salaries. They make very little as it is, and they are charged with educating the children so that they don't make the same mistakes that we have.

  2. Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch etc. caused this recession by selling valueless mortgage insurance and giving Liars Loans at the same time. They made BILLIONS bilking the country - now they are making incredible commissions by "fixing" it back up.

    Sue Goldman Sachs and Lynch Merrill. Go after the sleazy thieves that control American Finance and put them in jail for PROFITEERING during a TIME OF WAR.

  3. "The Clark County School Board harshly criticized this morning a plan by Gov. Brian Sandoval to use $300 million in Clark County school construction bond money to help balance the state budget."

    Justifiably so.

    Governor Sandoval only seeks to participate with a national effort. An effort by the Republican Party to bust unions. If not bust unions, he wishes to take all the ills of Nevada out on education...at the expense of the corporations and the filthy rich...in order to balance the budget by using the people who cash checks and use them to survive....but not the people who issue the damn checks.

    We need to wake up here in Nevada. Because the same issues that are effecting Wisconsin and Ohio are happening here in Nevada.

    Disagree with me all you want, but there is a national effort by the Governors to destroy unions. They are going for power. That's ALL they know. And they ALL do it.

    They know they can't win the Presidency. Because President Obama is extremely popular. And they have no way to compete against him in 2012.

    So, they are doing a back door way of going about it.

    Wake up, Nevada.

    Don't let this happen here.

    Don't let Governor Sandoval get his way.

    Don't give them a foot in the door.

    We must fight him tooth and nail. Because we stand a heckuva lot to lose.

    Governor Sandoval serves his corporate masters. Not the workers...the teachers...the firefighters...the police...the common man.

    He is in the pockets of the filthy rich.

    Wake up, Nevada.

    Wake up.

    Before it's too late.

  4. The Gov. stated he would bring Jeb Bush in to help with Education Reform. Jeb Bush sits on the board of Empower Software-keep that in mind!