Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008 | 2:06 a.m.
When it comes to public schools, Nevada consistently ranks near the bottom nationally in funding per pupil. The state has too many politicians like Gov. Jim Gibbons who campaign on their support for public education, but who deny the necessary funding once elected to office.
As reported in the Las Vegas Sun on Wednesday by Emily Richmond, there is concrete evidence that the governor’s out-of-control budget ax will be slicing classroom budgets at a school near you.
The Clark County School District, which has been called upon to cut its budget by 14 percent in concert with the next round of state cuts, stands to lose $120 million. That’s on top of the $130 million slashed since December.
It will mean proposed layoffs for 261 administrators, support staff and licensed personnel, but that saves only $17 million. A large share of the proposed cuts, $57 million, will come out of the district’s 341 schools, each of which will have to pare 3.5 percent from their budgets. That’s an average of $127,054 for elementary schools, $156,087 for middle schools and $391,633 for high schools. You’d have to be kidding yourself if you think schools can endure these cuts and still maintain high-quality education.
This is precisely one of the reasons why voters should vote yes on Clark County Advisory Question No. 5 on the general election ballot. That nonbinding measure supports the concept of asking the Nevada Legislature to approve a maximum 3 percent increase in hotel and motel room taxes to make up some of the education budget cuts and provide money for teacher salaries and student achievement programs.
“The message to everyone, not just teachers, is that if things continue to go down in the economy, and the Legislature doesn’t act, nothing is sacred in the district,” said Ruben Murillo, president of the Clark County Education Association.
A do-nothing attitude, epitomized by our governor when it comes to public education, must come to an end before our schools suffer irreparable harm.