Clark County School Board approves $2.4B budget

Updated May 21, 2018 - 11:22 pm

Amid concerns of overcrowding, ongoing public mistrust and the loss of school staffers, the Clark County School Board approved a final budget for the 2018-19 school year Monday that mended a $68 million deficit announced this month.

The latest $2.4 billion budget was adjusted to address the shortfall, caused primarily by two arbitration decisions over teacher salaries that the district recently lost.

The district is fighting one arbitration loss over the 2017-18 teachers contract in court. Meanwhile, district schools cut $47 million from their individual budgets, with $132 per student cut in elementary schools, $153 in middle schools and $184 in high schools.

But school staffers implored trustees to cut elsewhere.

French Elementary School Principal Tammy Villarreal-Crabb said her teachers work hard every day with a small budget.

“Losing a teacher with these budget cuts is going to be devastating,” she said. “And I know there’s that philosophy (that) principals will figure it out and the teachers will figure it out. I’m kind of running out of ideas how to figure that out.”

Arbor View High School teacher Michelle DeMaio said cutting teaching positions will make class sizes even larger next year.

“This is fiscally irresponsible,” she said. “I can’t think of one teacher who believes a single word that comes down from the district. It has lost all credibility.”

But trustees again asked the public to help lobby the Legislature for more money.

“This is the kind of anger that this board has had for a long time,” Trustee Chris Garvey said. “And it’s very difficult, the decisions that you’re having to make as (school organizational teams), because it’s like, which one of your children do you hurt?”

Other board members noted the need for the district to have a stronger political presence, admitting fault in the district’s fight for funding in the last legislative session.

“Yes, we have to make noise, but where was the noise at the last Legislature? Why did we not get some of that money?” Trustee Linda Cavazos said. “I know there were good people there working for us, but we need to have effective representation.”

The final budget also leaves $45.5 million in the ending fund balance, roughly $7.4 million less than outlined in the tentative budget.

The cuts came as a report from the advocacy group Educate Nevada Now said the Silver State has the largest class sizes in the nation. The report cited statistics from the National Education Association, noting that Nevada has an average of 25.86 students per teacher.

“With such large class sizes and uncertainty about pay raises and resources, it’s no wonder our teachers are so stressed,” Michelle Booth, communications director for Educate Nevada Now, said in a statement. “We keep saying we care about our students and teachers, but statistics like this say otherwise.”

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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