Las Vegas Sun

April 26, 2015

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Schools in dire straits

Budget cuts demanded by Gov. Jim Gibbons would devastate education in Nevada

Educators are responding appropriately to Gov. Jim Gibbons’ demand that they make even deeper cuts in their schools’ budgets. They are standing up for their students, and by extension, they are standing up for the future of Nevada.

If the educators, including Chancellor Jim Rogers, the Board of Regents and the superintendents of the Clark County and Washoe County school districts, do not succeed in salvaging their budgets, the consequences will be dire.

Rogers, who heads the university system, predicts that if additional budget cuts go through, Nevada will surely be the worst state in the nation in terms of financial support for education. That would spell real trouble in the near future for Nevada’s businesses and governments, which need an educated workforce, and for the social fabric of Nevada’s communities.

The Board of Regents last week refused to comply with Gibbons’ directive to cut the university system’s budget by 14 percent. Instead, the regents decided to seek a 10 percent increase, saying they must act in the best interests of the state.

Gibbons responded by saying the regents are “asking for the moon,” given the current economy.

That view is not shared by Clark County Superintendent Walt Rulffes and his counterpart in Washoe, Paul Dugan. They have separately written to Rogers, outlining their reasons for supporting his fight for proper educational budgets.

Kindergarten, empowerment schools, career and technical education, general instruction, gifted and talented programs, aid for deaf students, performance pay for teachers, textbooks and transportation are among many areas Rulffes said have already been cut. He said there is “no way that we can endure (more) cuts of the magnitude projected and still do a decent job for students.”

Even in this distressed economy, schools should be a priority for the state, instead of fodder for the budget ax. The nightmare facing our schools is reason enough for the Legislature to balance out Nevada’s tax policy, so that when gaming and sales taxes take a nose dive, essential state services don’t have to crash with them.

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