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EDITORIAL: Thorough audit of the Clark County School District is long overdue

Pressure is growing on the Clark County School District to undergo a comprehensive financial audit.

The district had planned to spend about $2.4 billion this coming school year, almost a 5 percent increase over the 2015-16 budget, despite relatively flat enrollment. But district officials now say that higher personnel costs mandated by an arbitration award, along with lower-than-expected revenue from some anticipated sources, has caused a shortfall that could hit $70 million.

They have talked about deep cuts and layoffs, even for teachers.

But not everyone is sympathetic. Steve Canavaro, the state’s top education official, argued last week that the district’s “math doesn’t add up and the focal point of their narrative is disingenuous, at best.”

Former Assemblyman David Gardner, who now plans a run for the Clark County School Board, also had questions. “When you throw a ton of extra money in the district and they still have budget issues, we need to make sure the information we’re working with is valid and that we’re using the money in the wisest way possible.”

To that end, Mr. Gardner and others — including the Clark County Education Association — now seek a outside examination of the district’s books. It would be long overdue.

The district is the fifth-largest in the nation. Any publicly funded entity of that size would benefit from a thorough and detailed evaluation of its spending and budgetary habits.

District trustees are expected to discuss a proposed audit at a Sept. 28 meeting. Let’s hope parents and other taxpayers turn out in support of the idea. The estimated $500,000 cost of such an assessment would be a bargain and virtually certain to more than pay for itself.

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