West Las Vegas schools board member Kenny Lujan called a recent vote by the district’s 12-month employees “un-American” after a majority decided on a calendar that would exclude Veterans Day as a paid holiday.
Lujan was the lone no vote on accepting the 2009 calendar at the board’s recent meeting, as members Christine Ludi, Gary Gold, Caroline Lopez and David Romero sided with the wishes of the administrative staff, which includes secretaries, maintenance, custodians and main office staff.
Superintendent Jim Abreu stressed that there was no disrespect intended by the year-round workers.
“Many of the 12-month employees, including myself, voted for the option that would make Veterans Day a holiday, but the majority voted for the other option. They had a choice between a number of holidays, and Veterans Day didn’t fall on a day that they wanted. Of course, this wasn’t out of any disrespect because everyone here respects and honors our veterans, even if they have to work that day,” Abreu told the Optic.
Teachers, on the other hand, voted on a calendar that would include Veterans Day as a paid holiday.
“Teachers and students will get Veterans Day off,” Abreu said.
The board also took formal action on the 2009-10 school bus contracts and the disposition of obsolete buses.
Transportation Director Loretta Salazar told the board that five old buses (one activity bus and four Head Start buses) were an eyesore, completely useless and of no value to the district. She said one bus didn’t have an engine, and parts from the other old buses had been used to fix newer ones.
Regarding bus contracts, member David Romero asked if there had ever been a cost analysis between the district owning buses and private contractors providing the service.
“The reason I ask that question is because during the school board elections, that was one of the questions everyone asked,” Romero said.
Salazar said, “I would say years ago it would have been cheaper for the district to own the buses, but in today’s world, with insurance and benefits in the equation, the cost would be prohibitive. In order to do away with contractors, we would have to write letters getting permission from Secretary of Education Veronica Garcia a year prior to taking over the fleet. We would have to explain why we would want that, and it would be costly because we would have to purchase all the equipment from the contractors.”
Business Manager Doug Hendrickson also distributed a list of “fixed assets” the district wanted to dispose of, including a number of musical instruments and computers. He said once the board approved the disposal, the district would have to get permission from the state.
Hendrickson said the list included items that were unusable because of age, inferiority or because the items were broken beyond reasonable repair.
Lujan wondered why students couldn’t purchase a lot of the band equipment on the list. He said a lot of kids in band couldn’t afford to buy instruments.
Abreu said in most cases, the instruments were unusable.
“We probably couldn’t even give them away.”
High School Principal Gene Parson agreed.
“A lot of the instruments that the band wants to get rid of are useless, broken, and can’t be fixed. We’ve taken every salvageable piece to fix other instruments, and the pieces for disposal are inoperable trash. It’s really just trash.”
Regarding the disposal of computer equipment, Lujan said if they are outdated, it would be cheaper to replace the mother-board. He also asked if the computers couldn’t be given to students.
“Maybe that’s something we can look into,” Lujan said.
Hendrickson said he would look at regulations pertaining to each category of items for disposal, but there are stringent guidelines as to what can be done.
“Even giving some of these items away may be prohibited because of the liability associated with that,” Hendrickson said.
On another matter concerning disposal, Abreu told the board he is looking into selling a number of properties that include the Maloof building and land in Conchas and Trementina. He said he was talking to state officials as well as the state Board of Finance about putting the West Las Vegas-owned real estate on the market.
The superintendent said he would have a report on the issue for the board next month.