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684 Clark County school positions might be cut

The Clark County School District anticipates eliminating 684 full-time positions next year, according to a tentative budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Weiler did not detail the job cuts in a memo to the school board, but they most likely are wide-ranging because every school has been told to reduce its staff by 3 percent and the central administration has been told to reduce its budget by 12 percent.

Despite many uncertainties about funding for next year, the school board is scheduled to vote on a budget of $2.1 billion on Tuesday to comply with a state law requiring all school districts to approve a tentative budget by April 15.

Legislators are still working on the state budget. The state’s guaranteed level of per-pupil funding won’t be known until June. School officials also don’t know the effect of the federal stimulus bill.

Although there will still be time to amend the budget before the new fiscal year starts on July 1, “we have to move forward with the worst-case scenario,” School Board President Terri Janison said on Thursday.

The School District is planning on budget reductions of $120 million, which are on top of $130 million in budget reductions that were made for this year.

The tentative budget for 2009-10 builds on earlier decisions to cut programs such as block scheduling, an early retirement benefit and permanent substitute teachers.

School officials said they still need to identify an additional $19 million in needed cuts. They don’t expect to provide cost-of-living increases for teachers.

In his memo, Weiler cautions the school board that additional cuts might be necessary because of “continuing shortfalls in state revenue.”

For the sake of planning, Weiler has assumed a state level of support of $4,800 per pupil, which is a decrease of 3 percent — or $144 less — from the current per-pupil funding.

School officials also are projecting that next year’s enrollment will grow by 0.7 percent, or 2,488 students, for a total of 313,688 students.

The district is preparing to open six new schools next year and five new schools in 2010-11.

Though school staffing is being reduced, district officials anticipate maintaining class sizes at current levels.

By not filling vacant positions and through other cost cutting measures, the district has managed to save $47 million from this year that it can use for next year.

Contact reporter James Haug at jhaug@ reviewjournal.com or 702-374-7917.

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