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West district eyes pay cuts

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By Don Pace

The West Las Vegas school district is considering pay cuts for employees and the administration.

At a recent school board meeting, West Superintendent Jim Abreu said he and Business Manager Dawn Biagianti had been looking at ideas to save money.

“We are considering a 2 percent reduction in pay for staff and 3 percent for the administration, which could potentially save us $175,000. The second thing, suspend all unnecessary new expenditures in the operational fund until the end of the year,” Abreu said. “That  would save about $300,000.”

Abreu said instead of hiring replacements for personnel, the district would employ long-term substitutes for the classroom until the end of the fiscal year and reevaluate the need to replace these positions on a full-time basis for the next fiscal year.

Other ideas under consideration:

• No overtime pay.

• Suspend all expenditures from the stimulus fund until the end of the year

• Shift about $122,975 in expenditures from the operational fund to the stimulus fund

• Shift supplies and materials, both encumbered and expended, to the stimulus fund.

• Suspend all travel and training expenditures.

• Examine current contractual arrangements and cancel those the district can do without.

“Again these are just suggestions; they are not set in stone,” Abreu said. “I’m presenting ideas to the board, something you said you wanted.”

Abreu said some of the suggestions would have to be run by labor union representatives. However, he said these are the things superintendents statewide are talking about and doing.

“At a recent forum, we brainstormed and came up with a whole bunch of different ideas,” he said.

Such ideas included increasing class sizes, instituting voluntary furloughs, creating a four-day work week, eliminating all field trips, sharing services between districts, reducing the number of student activities, reducing instructional support that includes nurses and librarians, and eliminating prep periods.

“These are all possibilities where we can save money in the district,” Abreu said. “Some of these measures are hard to even discuss, but these are things we need to look at.”

School board member David Romero said field trips should not be affected because money had already been raised.

“I hope you’re not saying, ‘They raised it, but now they can’t use it,’” Romero said.

Biagianti said generally groups pay for the main part of the field trip, but a lot of times ask the district to cover the cost of meals and transportation.

“We are not going to have the money in operational (funds), so they are going to have to pay for the entire trip out of their activity fund. We are going to be asking all the administrators and principals to give us the list of everything they have planned for the rest of the year,” Biagianti said.

Earlier, member Caroline Lopez had made a motion to freeze unnecessary spending.

“What I’m making a motion for is not a long-term fix. I’m just saying, effective immediately, we should stop unnecessary spending. We have to tighten our belts — we have to do it. Since we have to do it, why not start right now? Let’s start with things that will not affect the running or our schools,” Lopez said.

Regarding contracts, board member Kenny Lujan noted that Business Manager Biagianti has had a consultant helping her for two weeks.  

“Yes, she’s been here for several weeks, and she’s been quite valuable,” Biagianti said. “I would not have been able to pull all of this together by myself.”

Member Romero questioned having the consultant.

“What bothers me the most is when people say we have no money, yet want to hire new staff, so hiring decisions should be on an emergency basis,” Romero said.

Biagianti said the district has not reached the amount that had been encumbered for the consultant’s services.

“Adding my salary, plus the consultant’s salary, is still less than what we have been paying (for a temporary consultant),” she said.

Lopez restated her motion for her earlier ideas on budget-cutting measures, including no new contracts and no pay raises.

Abreu urged caution and recommended the board table Lopez’s motion.

The board decided to table the Lopez motion. Romero, Gold Gold and Christine Ludi voted against the motion, while Lujan and Lopez voted yes.