Rulffes, Rogers pan budget cuts

Gov. Jim Gibbons wants to invest in renewable energy to create jobs, but Clark County Schools Superintendent Walt Rulffes wonders whether those same jobs will have to be filled with workers imported from out of state.

If the state goes through with the governor’s proposal to cut funding for schools, Rulffes said, Nevada might not have the work force needed.

“Ironically, education is not the problem in an economic crisis,” Rulffes said in a speech Friday. “Education is the solution. Yet it remains in the balance as if compromising the future of our children is a sensible consideration.”

Rulffes and university system Chancellor Jim Rogers appeared together on television to make their case.

The governor has proposed cutting higher education by 36 percent and teachers’ salaries by 6 percent.

Jeff Weiler, chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, estimates the governor’s proposals will cost district schools $150 million.

Rogers said urged state leaders to look for new sources of revenue and criticized parents for not taking enough interest in their children’s education.

Their “State of the Education” speeches were timed in advance of a joint legislative hearing Tuesday on the governor’s budget proposals for education.

The governor has argued that pay cuts are necessary to avoid layoffs and minimize cuts to K-12 education, which his office has estimated at 2.6 percent cut for per-pupil funding.

But both Rulffes and Jim Wells, the deputy superintendent of fiscal services for the State Department of Education, said the governor’s proposals amount to more than 10 percent cuts for K-12 education when all parts of the proposed budget are considered.

Educators consider the 6 percent salary cuts as funding decreases because local school districts would be on the hook for covering salaries protected by union contracts.

Funding for programs such as $13.5 million for regional professional development, which keeps substitute teachers certified for the classroom, would also be eliminated.

Contact reporter James Haug at jhaug@ or 702-799-2922.

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