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West district gets new law firm

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By Don Pace

The West Las Vegas School board has hired a new law firm to represent its interests.

At a recent meeting, the board came out of closed session and announced the Cuddy Law Firm will take over duties from Sutin, Thayer and Brown, which has been the attorney firm of record for the last couple of years.

It wasn’t clear if the board discussed the issue behind closed doors. Contracts can’t be an item for discussion in closed sessions under state law.

“The board voted to hire the Cuddy Law Firm to do our legal services for the next three years. Two law firms submitted request for proposals, which included our current attorneys. However, the board settled on Sutin, Thayer and Brown,” Superintendent Jim Abreu said.

Abreu said the Cuddy Law Firm has represented the district before and currently is the legal adviser for special education. He said the board was happy with the work the firm had done in that area and decided to go with Cuddy.

In other business, food services director Dean Gallegos asked the board to hike the meal rates for adults eating at the cafeteria from $2.50 to $3.

Gallegos noted that the West district was one of the pioneers of a federal provision in which all students regardless of income eat for free.

“Throughout the years, students attending the district have never paid for a meal — whether it’s a snack, breakfast or lunch. Fifteen years ago, we were feeding 40 kids at the high school. Now we feed over 400. In today’s economy, the price for everything from ground beef to milk and flour has risen,” Gallegos said.

Gallegos said some schools across the nation have gotten rid of the program because they can’t afford it.

“If we get to the point to where we can’t operate (under the provision), it would be devastating to the community and the district,” Gallegos said.

Abreu said the free meals are an incentive for families coming to Las Vegas.

“When they have to choose between school districts and we can say that we don’t charge for meals at our schools, it can be a big attraction for the parents,” Abreu said.

Board member Caroline Lopez worried about staff and parents who are continually being asked to carry the burden of paying higher prices for everything.

“I know 50 cents doesn’t sound like a lot, but over a year’s time it adds up,” Lopez said.

Gallegos said he and his staff were trying to be innovative with their menus. He said at every possible turn cooks are saving money using “homemade” techniques. For example, instead of buying chicken that’s already cut, he buys whole chickens that his cooks cut up.

After a long discussion, the board voted unanimously to increase the price of adult meals as requested.

Las Vegas City Schools recently raised the rates across the board for elementary, middle, high school and adult meals. Unlike West, Las Vegas City Schools students pay for cafeteria meals.