Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | 3:29 p.m.
Clark County Schools Superintendent Walt Rulffes announced today he will cut 140 support employee positions in order to help the state trim an additional $275 million from its budget.
In a memo to Clark County School Board trustees and the senior administrators, Rulffes said that he was “saddened” to announce the “reduction in force.” The memo was obtained by the Sun.
The exact amount that will be saved by trimming the 140 positions -- mostly classroom aides -- is still being calculated, but district sources estimate it will save the district between $6 million and $7 million annually.
The positions would have paid using some of the nearly $18 million the district stood to receive in school improvement grant funds from the state.
But those funds are now gone, forfeited by the district as part of the latest round of budget cuts hammered out by the Legislature in Friday’s special session. The district had already been forced to trim about $60 million from its operating budget, with additional cuts of $133 million projected for the next biennium.
Some of the employees whose positions are cut could be placed quickly into existing support staff vacancies, of which there are more than 100, Rulffes said. The vacancies include bus aides and classroom assistants.
Doug McCain, president of the Education Support Employees Association, said, “I’m obviously very disappointed, but hopefully the cuts won’t go as deep as they’re suggesting.”
Additionally, the district is seeing significantly more retirements this summer than in prior years for all three employee groups — support, licensed personnel and administrators — which could mean the number of vacancies will continue to grow. Employees are retiring early in order to sign up with the state’s subsidized health benefits program. The eligibility window closes Sept. 1.
“That could help soften the blow” of today’s decision by the superintendent, McCain said.
“If there’s millions of dollars taken out of the budget, obviously something has to be done,” McCain said. “I hope that they put a lot of thought into it before they start cutting. We all know it takes a community to raise these kids. The cuts could have an adverse effect on that.”