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As It Is: A risky course for West official

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By The Staff

It’s rare when people take on their bosses, but that’s what happened recently in the West Las Vegas school district.  West Las Vegas school board members told the district’s business manager, Dawn Biagianti, that they were being underpaid.  She told them that that board policy prohibited her from giving a member more than one $95 payment a month. But board members, citing state law, contended that they should get $95 every time they meet — and that’s been quite a bit lately. Biagianti stood her ground, and one of the members called the school district’s attorney, who backed up the business manager.  That was lucky for her — maybe.  This board hasn’t shown a history of retaliating against its dissenters. But most of us know of bosses who give the shaft to those who stir up trouble.  Biagianti took a risk by taking a stand that her bosses are supposed to get less money than they claim.   A few years ago, when it became public knowledge that Las Vegas City Council members made more money than their counterparts in most other cities, many residents expressed their disapproval. But not a single city employee came forward with such sentiments. They knew that doing so could well be a career killer. Indeed, for a time, the council ostracized the minority of its members who pushed a pay reduction.   With that history in mind, Biagianti showed some guts by challenging the board. With a change in superintendents soon, it’ll be interesting to see if Biagianti stays on the job — or if her superiors find some reason to show her the door.  Abraham Lincoln, known for his “Team of Rivals,” could keep dissenters in his administration. Can West Las Vegas? • • • Ruben Cordova, who has been appointed the new West Las Vegas superintendent, is expected to start July 1. He is from Ojo Feliz, a small community in Mora County. Cordova, who has had two stints as a West associate superintendent, said he’ll be glad to be working in Las Vegas again.  The last time he was here, the state had come down on the district for misspending of bilingual program funds — a $10,000 adults-only, invitation-only party being the most prominent example. At the time, most of the school board backed the party in the face of staunch community opposition. So Cordova and others had to keep quiet about their feelings on the controversial celebration — or they might have been in hot water with the board.  Well, the board has changed membership since then. And the former bilingual director has been convicted. Cordova had nothing to do with the misspending; as associate superintendent, his area was academics, not finances. When I brought up the bilingual bash to Cordova, he said it was a bad period for West Las Vegas. Asked directly if he thought the spending was egregious, he said yes.  Four years later, the state still has enhanced oversight of West’s finances. That’s because of the shenanigans in the bilingual program.  

David Giuliani is managing editor of the Las Vegas Optic. He may be reached at 425-6796 or dgiuliani@lasvegasoptic.com.