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Clark County school officials say budget can’t cover promised raises

Updated April 3, 2019 - 6:55 pm

The Clark County School District is opposing every bill before the Nevada Legislature that has a financial impact to the state in an attempt to bring attention to the need for more money for education.

The lobbying tactic is also intended to highlight a related problem: The district says it does not have enough money to cover Gov. Steve Sisolak’s promised 3 percent raise for educators and 2 percent boost in “roll-up costs,” or career advancement on the salary schedule.

Of the $214 million increase in statewide funding to the Distributive School Account in Sisolak’s proposed budget, the district estimates it will receive about $55 million to $70 million under the state’s current education funding formula.

Using the lower of those two figures, that’s enough to balance the budget but not enough to begin to offer the salary increases, the School Board heard at a budget presentation by district officials on Wednesday. District officials said in an editorial board meeting with the Review-Journal on Tuesday that it would need roughly $100 million more to cover the raises promised by Sisolak.

Sisolak said in a statement that money for the raise remains one of his top priorities.

“I will continue to work with school district and legislative leadership to ensure this three-percent raise gets to our educators,” he said. “I hope CCSD and all our school districts share my commitment to making sure our hardworking educators get the long-overdue raise they deserve.”

Chief Financial Officer Jason Goudie said Wednesday that the district should get 65 percent of the spending increases in the proposed budget — proportionate to the amount of the state’s education budget that the district gets. That would equal roughly $140 million, or nearly enough to cover the raises.

District officials say they’re working closely with legislators to fix the state’s education funding formula.

“There’s got to be some infusion of dollars if we are going to be committed to some of the commitments that were made,” Superintendent Jesus Jara told the board.

The district projects the state will increase per-pupil funding by $81, for a total of $5,863. Any deviation from that figure could affect the overall budget picture.

On a more positive note, the district’s estimated its unassigned ending fund balance — a reserve that’s built up in accordance with sound fiscal practices — will finally reach 2 percent of the general fund, in accordance with the district’s policy.

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

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