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East axes elementary principals

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Finances prompted move

By Mercy Lopez

The changes at Las Vegas City Schools keep coming.

On Monday, interim Superintendent Lydia Flores gave letters of termination to elementary school principals David Baca, Gerald Garcia and Vikki Gold. In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Flores said the terminations were done in an effort to balance the upcoming school year’s budget.

“I am being required to balance the budget and we need to make deep cuts in administration,” Flores said.

She added that administrators are at-will employees who are not eligible for tenure.

Garcia served as principal at Legion Park Elementary. Gold had been a long- time educator in the district and was principal at Sierra Vista Elementary. Baca, a veteran area educator, was principal at Los Niños Elementary. All three started their respective principal positions in 2011, hired by then Superintendent Sheryl McNellis-Martinez.

To cover the responsibilities, Flores said current Director of Instruction Laureen Romero will become principal at Mike “Mateo” Sena Elementary in Sapello, Legion Park Elementary and Paul D. Henry Elementary. Memorial Middle School assistant principal Nancy Jeffrey is being moved out of her current position and will assume the principal position at Sierra Vista Elementary, Los Niños Elementary, and the Early Childhood Center.

To assist Romero and Jeffery, head teachers will be assigned at each of the elementary schools. Those head teachers will be given a stipend to help run the schools. Flores said no changes were made to the Robertson High School administration. Martina Tapia will remain as principal at Memorial Middle School, and a head teacher will also be assigned there.

Flores said the changes will save the district money. The stipend amount for a head teacher  is dramatically lower than a principal salary. She said both Romero and Jeffery will switch to another salary schedule as part of this reorganization and will be compensated for being principals at three schools.

Flores said she is needing to make roughly $500,000 in cuts. The cuts she has imposed within the past few weeks will help with roughly $400,000, she said.

“Administration took big cuts, but we did not sacrifice the instructional program,” Flores said.

In late May, Flores delivered letters of non-renewal to roughly 12 other staff members, including several teachers and educational assistants. On Wednesday, she said some of the educational assistants would in fact return next school year.

But don’t be surprised if additional people are given walking papers. Flores said she is looking into 12-month employees such as secretarial, custodial, and maintenance staff to make up the remaining amount that is needed to balance the budget.

Once Romero assumes her principal position, the director of curriculum position will be eliminated. When Flores returns to her regular position of director of federal programs in July, she will also inherit the workload of the director of instruction position. It’s unclear what her title will be. When asked if her title will be associate or assistant superintendent she said a title has not been assigned, and she had nothing in writing as of Wednesday.

Ruben Cordova is currently working on a contract with the district as a consultant until July when he takes over the superintendent’s position. Cordova and Flores are currently in the transition period until the end of this fiscal year.