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April 20, 2014

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Clark County School Board hears the grim budget details it confronts

Image

Justin M. Bowen / File photo

The Clark County School District administration building in Las Vegas.

School budget meeting

KSNV coverage of Clark County School Board meeting to discuss budget crisis, Feb. 17, 2011.

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.

This has all the makings of fiscal chaos:

Before the Clark County School District knows how much money it’ll have for the next two years, it will first have to:

• Negotiate contracts with teachers, administrators and clerical staff.

• Talk employees out of pay raises they were scheduled to receive.

• Decide whether to lay off of as many as 3,800 teachers and others, or cut 33 days out of the school year, or cram so many students into classroom as to risk making them unmanageable.

• Adopt a final budget by May.

And then, maybe by late June at best, the district will know how much money it has to spend under the budget hammered out by Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Legislature.

This was all laid out Thursday at a special meeting of the School Board.

“This is devastating all the way around,” said Joyce Haldeman, the district’s associate superintendent and chief lobbyist.

School Board President Carolyn Edwards said, “For all of the teachers and support staff out there, this is not what we’re going to do.”

She said these issues are subject to negotiations with the teachers union and others. But she noted that “rumors are already running wild.”

Teachers union President Ruben Murillo said in an e-mail about contract negotiations, “Just starting. Nothing to report.”

Sandoval has proposed significant funding cuts in K-12 education to help balance the state budget.

And he has proposed taking money the district has banked for bond payments on school construction — also to help balance the state budget.

Sandoval wants to take $300 million in debt service reserves to shore up the budget. Later, $150 million would be returned to the district for salaries and other operating expenses. The School Board, some members close to tears, voted 7-0 to oppose using the money to balance the budget or “for any other purpose” not approved by voters in the 1998 vote for the multibillion-dollar bond that created the reserves.

Statewide, Sandoval wants more than $425 million in debt service reserves reassigned.

The district’s options are limited.

School Board member Linda Young wondered whether the district could sue the state to stop the use of debt service reserves.

Bill Hoffman, the district’s top lawyer, said no legal action could be taken until after the Legislature approves a budget. If lawmakers agree to raid the funding, which is unclear this early in the session, the district might argue the move is illegal, Hoffman said.

“We’re faced with a situation where we originally said we were going to do one thing (with the money) and the public expects that to happen, and now the circumstances have changed,” Hoffman said.

“That one thing,” he added, “is that the money was going to be used for capital things rather than operational things.”

John Cole, the newest board member, was on the committee overseeing the voter-approved bond in 1998.

“We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Cole said. “We’re robbing the future to pay the present.”

Jeff Weiler, the district’s chief financial officer, said the district might sell new bonds, but they would carry higher interest rates and hurt the district’s ability to maintain and repair schools.

Haldeman said: “The message we’ll take to Carson City is we don’t approve of the governor’s plan.”

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  1. Obeying the rule of the law.

    Is what Governor Sandoval now saying and modeling to the citizens of Nevada that we can decide which laws to obey and follow, and which ones we will disobey and disregard? What kind of precedent is he setting for the rest of us? Shall people pick and choose which laws they will follow?

    No ruler on this planet would ever think of reversing the will and laws that their people peacefully and lawfully put into effect. Does Governor Sandoval believe he is above the law and people he serves? Good Lord!

  2. This is the Republicants doing what they do best, trying to destroy the working people. B S's policies will do nothing to improve our fiscal situation. It does nothing to address the loss of revenue or try to improve revenue sources. His policies add to the deficit thru additional spending in the millions. His only concern is making sure that the people that put him in office do not lose any of their precious tax breaks or loopholes to dodge paying their fair share.
    The Republicant party is out to destroy everything that makes life better for the average citizen. If they succeed in destroying the labor movement and Unions then they can destroy us all. This is not a Nevada situation, the Republicants are trying to do this nation wide.
    The Republicants are trying to turn back progress for working people and their families. People do not remember what it was like to work employers that could choose not to pay you if you did not please them, or being them victim of some overbearing, ruthless and hostile supervisor.
    I think that this economic meltdown was contrived by Republicants so they can try to reverse history. So far it is working pretty good.

  3. Sandoval is taking points from Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin on how to call out the National Guard to fill State, Local and Educational jobs in case there is a walk out.

    Calling out the National Guard at home is the metastasized version of their international diplomacy tool - the US Military. Republicans will are now preparing to use military diplomacy where ever they rule.

  4. Before we even start raising temperatures about cutting teacher positions I hope everyone will look at the fluff that is apparent in the School District. Everywhere you look are programs of limited utilitarian purpose. Do high school really need to teach photography? Extracurricular programs are fine in times of plenty but do we need to pay coaches extra for the time they devote to dance or bowling or drum line? Fewer extra curricular activities means more time to study - by the way did you know kids in many schools no longer even have homework? Everyone is so concerned they have time for fun. FUN? This is school they aren't supposed to have fun.

  5. Interest due on bond funds in my book is like a trust guaranteed to the investers. Once a public entitiy starts invading this trust, the issuer's reputation will be junk bond status as far as attracting any future investment.