Rulffes says governor sticking schools with bigger share of cuts

CARSON CITY — Clark County Schools Superintendent Walt Rulffes accused the governor Thursday of unfairly demanding Nevada public schools cut their spending by an additional $96 million when schools already will not receive $90 million appropriated by the Legislature.

Rulffes told the Legislature’s Committee on Education that Gov. Jim Gibbons really intends to reduce public school spending by 7 percent, more than $180 million, not the 4.5 percent cut requested from other state agencies. The meeting was a teleconference between Las Vegas and Carson City.

“It is like a sucker punch in the nose,” said Rulffes, noting that the governor until mid-December had not requested public schools to make any spending reductions.

Democratic members of the committee agreed with Rulffes’ views, with Assemblyman Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, urging school boards to defy the governor and make no cuts.

Republican members largely were silent. Gibbons is a Republican.

Even with the cuts, spending on public schools this year is $221 more per student than last year, said Keith Rheault, state superintendent of public instruction.

In light of a new national report that gave Nevada’s education performance a D+ grade, 46th among the 50 states, Rulffes contended Gibbons should not reduce public education funding.

But state Budget Director Andrew Clinger, in a phone interview, challenged Rulffes’ reasoning.

He said the school districts never received or were entitled to the $90 million that Rulffes wants to credit as a cut on public education.

Because school enrollments did not reach the projections on which legislators based the $2.2 billion public school budget, schools never received that money, Clinger said.

Rulffes himself had told the committee that enrollment in Clark County increased by 6,000 pupils, not the 11,000 on which state spending was based

Therefore, the school district did not receive $66 million for students who never enrolled.

Nonetheless, Rulffes will request the Clark County School Board — and school administrators in other counties will ask their school boards — to pass resolutions demanding Gibbons credit them as having made $90 million in cuts because of the enrollment shortfall.

“We can handle the other $5 million to $10 million (in cuts),” Rulffes added.

But Clinger said the administration wants school boards to identify only where they would make slightly less than $40 million in spending reductions.

Gibbons has decided to postpone the start of the education empowerment program, expansion of the full-day kindergarten program, career and technical education improvements, and other new programs, the budget director said.

By this step, the state will save $55 million. He added that the administration also has reduced the cuts expected by public education by another $3 million.

“Finding less than $40 million out of a $2.2 billion budget is a small piece of that budget,” Clinger said.

Clark County School Board member Ruth Johnson took a different view at Thursday night’s board meeting.

Budget cuts mean that the district will not be doing things for students that it should be doing, she said, and cuts, whatever they might be, are going to have an impact.

“It doesn’t just fall into a black hole and we absorb it and keep going,” Johnson said.

Board members passed a resolution that will be sent to Gibbons addressing the proposed reductions in state funding to K-12 education. It encourages the state to do the following:

• Explore ways of stabilizing funding for education.

• Use the state’s rainy day fund to meet public education’s share of the budget shortfall.

• Base next year’s per pupil allocation increase on what this year’s figure was before any reductions were made.

• Establish an account where funding that reverts to the state from school districts is held in reserve to meet future shortfalls.

Board members also raised the possibility of a lawsuit against the state for failing to meet its constitutional and legal obligation to fund public schools adequately.

“In a year when there’s a shortfall, where’s the guarantee?” School Board President Mary Beth Scow said of the state’s obligation to support schools.

Gibbons wants school districts to prepare lists by today showing how they would reduce their spending. But some districts will not meet for several weeks, Rheault said earlier.

“If the governor wants overnight decisions, he needs to make some,” Rulffes said in an interview.

The governor intends soon to announce his plan to cut state spending by a total $440 million over the next 18 months because of a decline in tax revenue.

About $160 million of the reduction would come from dipping into the state’s rainy day fund when the Legislature goes into session in February 2009.

Rheault outlined how his office will save $1 million by not filling a parental involvement coordinator position, a gifted-and-talented student consultant and other positions.

“There are no good options,” said Rheault, who suggested schools might cut back on book purchases. “I don’t care what you cut. There will be an effect on student achievement.”

Democratic members of the committee were incensed by the cuts he suggested.

“Why is it we are talking about any of these cuts?” Denis asked.

He said school boards should show courage and defy the governor by not preparing cuts lists.

“To have a discourse on cuts is wrong,” added Denis, state PTA president. “We need to be brave and not cut.”

Committee Chairwoman Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, said the state dropout rate has declined because of career and technical education improvements that now are in jeopardy.

But Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, said the committee must look at restructuring Nevada education and make changes without increasing funding.

“We know what the solutions are, or at least a lot of them,” Denis replied. “A lot of it comes down to funding.”

Contact Review Journal Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or (775) 687-3901. Contact reporter Lisa Kim Bach at 383-0287 or lbach@reviewjournal.com

News Videos
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Mylar Balloon Demo
NV Energy presented a demonstration Wednesday to depict the damage that can be caused by the release of Mylar balloons.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing