weather icon Clear

Clark County School District facing $17M-18M budget deficit

Updated June 4, 2019 - 5:21 pm

Despite winning additional funding, including money for raises, in the just-concluded legislative session, the Clark County School District revealed Tuesday that it is facing a budget deficit of between $17 million and $18 million next year. That means the possibility of a teachers strike in the fall remains on the table.

The announcement by district officials at a news briefing came just hours after state lawmakers pushed through Senate Bill 551, which would extend the business payroll tax and fund nearly $17 million for school safety and $72 million for educator raises across the state.

The move gave the district an additional $53 million to spend over the biennium.

That, combined with another bill that freed $13 million in annual funding that was previously restricted to certain programs and a potential 0.25 percent increase in the county sales tax, prompted district officials to announce Monday night that they would be able to provide raises promised by Gov. Steve Sisolak. They said that money would fund salary advancements averaging 2 percent and average raises of 3 percent for educators.

The district had previously said it could not give the promised raise to employees because it was $111 million short of the amount needed to fund both raises and pay for increased health care costs.

That problem appeared to have been swept aside by the Legislature’s last-minute action on the related education bills, several of which await the governor’s signature.

But on Tuesday, Superintendent Jesus Jara said the district actually had needed over $160 million to avoid any shortfall.

District spokeswoman Melinda Malone later clarified that the figure is $163 million, $52 million the district had projected it would receive from the state for operations and $111 million for raises and health care. She could not explain why the amount of funding for operations came in less than projected.

The district also received an increase in per-pupil funding after legislators voted to direct the 10 percent marijuana retail tax to education. And district officials said throughout the session that they had presented a “balanced budget” to the School Board, one that did not incorporate raises or address rising health care costs.

Officials will determine where to make cuts to eliminate the remaining red ink, but Jara said he aims to keep cuts away from the classroom if possible.

“Right now, I think we can get away from making cuts in the classroom,” he said, noting that raising class sizes is “not an option.”

That will be key to preventing a teacher strike, with the Clark County Education Association standing by its threat to walk out of work next school year if there are any budget cuts affecting the classroom.

“We’re not just looking for a salary increase if it means we’re going to have cuts in the classroom,” Executive Director John Vellardita said earlier Tuesday.

The union is scheduled to meet with the district Thursday to discuss funding levels.

“If those cuts are in the classroom, then that’s a major problem and the strike is still on,” Vellardita said.

Meanwhile, Jara said the district’s legal team is looking at what options CCSD may have to prevent a strike.

The additional $53 million that the district expects to receive through an extension of the business payroll tax could be at risk, too, if Republicans file a lawsuit over SB551 as threatened.

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

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)