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East eyeing reduction in force

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West has cut two positions

By Mercy Lopez

Officials from both local school districts plan to cut back on their expenses during the coming fiscal year in hopes of getting off emergency supplemental funding.

In an effort to pull it off, both school districts have not been filling vacant positions, and West has even eliminated some positions.

At Las Vegas City Schools, the union is recommending a reduction in force for next school year rather than continuation of furloughs, which results in lower pay for staff.

Patricia Duran, president of the City Schools teachers union said union members support a reduction in force, given the choice between a reduction in force and furloughs.

The school districts combined received nearly $1.359 million in emergency supplemental funding for this school year.

To help get through this year’s budget crisis, the district implemented 3.5 days of furloughs for staff members making $20,000 or more per year. District Superintendent Sheryl McNellis-Martinez took seven furlough days.

In addition, the district went to a four-day school week. At the time, McNellis-Martinez told the board that the four-day week was needed in order to balance the district’s budget. It is unknown at this time how much cost savings, if any, the district saw by moving to the four-day week.  She had previously said the move would decrease the amount the district pays in transportation, substitute teacher and energy costs.

McNellis-Martinez is anticipating a budget of roughly $14.1 million for next school year.

She said this amount does not include any emergency supplemental funding. She added that the district is working diligently to finalize a budget to submit to PED; however, details of any cuts, if any, were unavailable. She said this year’s operational budget was roughly $14.8 million, including the $750,000 emergency supplemental funding received from PED.

“We are currently analyzing full-time positions, but not people in particular,” McNellis-Martinez said.

McNellis-Martinez said she has not sent out letters advising staff of hiring status for next year as she is awaiting budget figures. She said there most likely will be a reduction in force based on positions. The district has not been filling vacant positions for several years.

The West Las Vegas School district had already implemented a budget reduction for the current fiscal year due to a decline in enrollment, but that wasn’t enough, as the district needed $609,000 in emergency supplemental funding from the state Public Education Department. The district’s operating budget for this year was roughly $12.1 million. The board-approved budget of $12.7 for the 2013-14 year was scheduled to be reviewed by PED on Tuesday.

The nearly $600,000 budget increase is due to an increase in the state’s equalization guarantee per student from $3,668 to $3,817.55.  In the submitted budget the district also complied with Gov. Susana Martinez’s mandate of a one percent pay increase for staff.

“We are well on our way to get off emergency supplemental funding,” West Superintendent Gene Parson said.

But he said the district plans to apply for $250,000 in emergency supplemental funding for next school year just in case it’s needed.

“The team here at West Las Vegas has been working hard on the budget,” Parson said. “The budget is very frugal, but at the same time it meets student and staff needs.”

District Business Manager Dinah Maynes said the district eliminated two positions to bring the amount of full-time positions at the district to 192. Additionally, Parson sent 16 letters of termination to 15 non-tenured certified teachers and one to a regular school employee. Maynes said the letters are just standard protocol in the event the district doesn’t have the enrollment next year.

“If we get the enrollment, he (Parson) will fill those positions,” she said. “The letters are just standard procedure.”

The west side school district has been experiencing drops in enrollment, which has resulted in less state funding.