Las Vegas Sun

May 5, 2015

Currently: 78° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

School officials warn of jobs cuts, larger classes under proposed budget


Heather Cory / File photo

Clark County School District officials say Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget would mean job cuts and larger class sizes to make up for a possible $250 million shortfall next fiscal year. A classroom at Green Valley High School is shown here.

Budget cuts

KSNV coverage of Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposed state budget, Jan. 25, 2011.

Sun Coverage

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed reduced budget for education could result in possibly thousands of employee layoffs and bigger class sizes in the Clark County School District, the district's chief financial officer said Wednesday.

School superintendents from Washoe and Nye counties also echoed the statements of Jeff Weiler in their presentations to budget committees holding hearings in advance of the opening of the Legislature.

Weiler said the Clark County School District faces a potential $250 million shortfall next fiscal year.

The governor has proposed reducing the average statewide per student support from $5,192 this fiscal year to $4,918 in each of the next two fiscal years.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said he disagrees with Sandoval's proposed budget for education. The Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee will hold further hearings on education.

Horsford said the governor’s budget doesn’t take into account the loss of some federal funds, such as stimulus money.

Superintendent Heath Morrison of Washoe County and Superintendent Rob Roberts of Nye County agreed the cutbacks would mean larger class sizes and layoffs of teachers.

The three officials, however, all urged the committees to grant local school districts more flexibility in how they use state money. The governor wants to give a block grant to school districts, rather than funding separate programs such as class size reduction, special elementary counselors and gifted and talented units.

Under the governor’s budget there would be an $18 million reduction in the amount of money going to school districts in the block grant.

Sandoval, in his State of the State message, said the public school system was broken and needed to be overhauled.

Roberts told the committee, “I don’t think the system is broken, but it is severely underfunded.” He said the proposed $270 cut in per-student funding “puts us further in the hole and more difficult to climb out of.”

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, questioned whether there were any statistics to show if students in smaller classes performed better.

Keith Rheault, state superintendent of public instruction, said there have been no formal studies, but teachers and parents believe it help students, he said.

Weiler also said the plan by the governor to switch part of the money in a bond reserve account to operations would result in the district either raising its property tax levy in Clark County or extending the life of the bonds from 20 to 30 years.

He said that would cost the district 1 to 2 percent more and could hurt its bond rating.

Morrison told the committees that a bill draft has been prepared to extend the probationary period for new teachers from one to three years. A teacher now achieves tenure after one year.

He said this would give the district more time to evaluate the teacher to determine if he or she should be kept.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 26 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. If Sandoval wants my job, he can pay my bills too.

    Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei.

  2. Sandoval maintains a lavish life style at taxpayer expense. He live in a big Mansions in Carson City paid for buy the taxpayers, he travels in a gas-guzzler state car, he travels on a state supplied aircraft. He receives free taxpayer paid for medical insurance for himself and his family. He entertains fat cat contributors on the taxpayer's dime. At least Jerry Brown and some Republican Congress people are exercising leadership by giving up Government perks.

    We have a wrecking crew in the Governor's office, it is time for Sandoval to step down.

  3. Class size reduction is widely considered to have little to no impact on student achievement.

    Any studies that do show improvement are for early grades with African American students and nothing after 3rd grade.

    Give parents school choice - it shouldn't be a crime

  4. The bottom line:

    $2.1 BILLION / 300,000 students = $7,000 per pupil.

    If the current system cannot educate our young people on $7,000 per year then it is broken. It is not the citizens job to micromanage the CCSD. But like stockholders, we demand accountability and a return on our investment.

    You want more money for education? Taxpayers say "NO"!

    How about vouchers? I bet there are enough entrepreneur teachers out there who would gladly accept 30 vouchers @ $5,000 each = $150,000 and find a way to educate those 30 students. I know I would. Let's give it a try!

  5. Harold..... The problem with your analysis is it leads to the same broken record conclusion -- throw more money at it. Do you mean to tell me that $7,000 per student is NOT enough?

    You want more money? Taxpayers say "NO"!

  6. Harold, you most certainly did say "throw more money at the problem." All the Governor wants to do is maintain the $7,000 per pupil funding. The enrollment in the CCSD has contracted to 2007 levels and the Governor wants to reduce funding to 2007 levels.

    You clearly stated his plan was wrong.

    Then you went on a rant about student behavior. I fail to see the correlation between disruptive students and the CCSD demanding more tax dollars. Probably because there is no correlation. As a taxpayer, I see $7,000 per student. I see the Governor's proposal of $5,500 student vouchers. This translates into a $1,500 per student savings.

    You can rant all you want about quality issues but taxpayers are not responsible for micromanaging the school district. If there are student behavior problems then this is something that the teachers must hash out with and their administrators.

    The article is about the CCSD demanding more tax dollars.

    Nevada taxpayers say "NO"!

  7. Well if you are going to resort to name calling then that speaks volumes about your character and credibility. Good night.

    Nevada taxpayers say "NO"!

  8. LasVegas2011...
    I had to read your post 3 or 4 times to understand if it was meant "tongue in cheek", and I'm still not sure!
    If it was, it was very funny.
    If it wasn't, it's a PERFECT commentary on why Nevada will never succeed in edgucatin' it's youngin's.

    Sandoval to Education:
    "Dang, I gave ya yer allowance just last week! 5 hole dollars! What in tarnation are y'all DOIN? Buyin' them fancy lah-tay's when ya culd be drinkin' FOLGERS? Come on now, we have GOT to buckle down and share the pain!"

  9. @ ShannonK -- There is no misrepresentation going on here. The Governor's plan has to do with funding. It does not have to do with disruptive students or indifferent parents. When harold says "the Governor's plan is wrong" the only thing he could possibly be talking about is money.

    Read the article! The CCSD believes that $7,000 PER PUPIL is not enough.

    Imagine a classroom of 30 students, one teacher and $210,000 DOLLARS at her disposal. Now of course I understand that all the money does not trickle down to the classroom. But herein lies the problem -- where is all that money going?

    You say that Nevada ranks lowest in per pupil spending. Do you think for a second that they are spending $7,000 per student to educate children in China or India?

    It is not the duty of the citizens of Nevada to micromanage education and try to determine where all the money goes. But if this is not enough to educate our young people, then it is obvious the system is broken. And it is up to educators, administrators and government officials to FIX IT!

    You want more money for education? Nevada taxpayers say "NO"!

  10. @ roseanrose. Oh yeah there is a whole lot more money going to the district. The $7,000 per student is just general fund expenditures. The only items covered in the general fund are salaries for teachers and staff, utilities, transportation, and instructional materials. Everything else is covered under other categories that gobble up more tax dollars.

    You want more money? Nevada taxpayers say "NO"!

  11. Show up at the budget town hall meeting this Saturday and make your voice heard. In Las Vegas, it's at the Grant Sawyer building at 555 E. Washington from 9 AM - 2 PM.

  12. @ ShannonK. Okay, you win. I won't attribute anything to you anymore.

    You must understand that there are a lot of taxpayers reading this article and the Comments section. Taxpayers who aren't afraid to e-mail their State Assemblymen and Senators and tell them that $7,000 per pupil is enough.

    If you are against the Governor's proposal and you want to sway the readers' opinions, you might want to put some thought into your Comments.

    Condescension and tit for tat is not going to win you any support. In fact, I daresay it is going to alienate more people against you.

    You want more money? Nevada taxpayers say "NO"!

  13. Notice all of the Comments saying the Governor is right and that the District needs to make do with less money like everyone else in this down economy. The comments are well thought out and include supporting detail.

    Now look at the comments that side with the educators who want more of your tax money. They are condescending, they attack people for minor spelling or grammatical errors, they engage in name calling. They say that they are right and the other side is wrong but they offer no explanation as to why $7,000 PER STUDENT is not enough.

    And these people are supposed to be educators, the people we trust our children with. Imagine what happens when your child or grandchild makes a mistake in the classroom. Imagine the personal attacks against your child, the name calling, the condescension. No wonder our kids are performing poorly.

    To all of the condescending educators who engage in personal attacks and name calling, then demand more money -- Nevada taxpayers say "NO"!

  14. Joe Duran wrote "My story isn't that different from a lot of people out there. I used to be in the construction field moving to be pretty high up and respected in my trade. Much like a lot of people when the economy collapsed so did my trade. So from Phoenix I moved back to New Mexico.
    Moving in back home with my parents in Albuquerque, NM, I got a job similar to what I was doing, but as the economy still on the decline in 2009 there was still little work for granite installer. The ladder down to underemployed is rough. Like so many out there we do what we can. The construction project that I was involved in was coming to a close prematurely. It was time to take start making changes.
    During the last half of 2009 I found the woman what I was going to marry, but she lived her in Las Vegas. It made sense, and with hardships that would be endured financially it was a gamble with a big payout. Finally getting a job at one of the casinos, the further strains of underemployment are leaving their mark. Having wanting to go back to school for some time 2010 was the year to get my life back on track.
    From working two jobs and obscene hours, to going to school full-time in pursuit of degree my life has changed for the better. The financial strains are ever present. Ever more so on a man in his late 20's starting a family than someone just coming out of college. Regardless of the fact my earning potential will be boosted after I gradate. It's now, that trying to get by is a catalyst in any one making it or breaking it from their educational dreams.
    The price of life is going up. From housing, food, gas, electric, and the scope of all day to day expenses. Wages are staying the same and worse, especially in this town employment is hard to come by. The need for affordable education is ever more present now more than ever. Any avenue that can be walked down to make it easier for people to go out and obtain a college education needs to be walked; whether it is grants or incentives on businesses to have tuition reimbursement. Real economic stimulation is in education. Education is an investment that does pay off."

  15. Jason Corbin wrote "The last few years have hit my family especially hard. A lack of insurance combined with the cost of a miscarriage and a successful birth ate up our savings. We had been trying for two years to get a modification on our home. We finally won that battle, but by the time the modification was approved, we had racked up a large amount of credit card debt (living expenses"not luxury items). So, we will have to foreclose anyway.

    The only option we, as a family, have is higher education. Through grants, I have been able to take the steps necessary to earn a college degree. My intention is to complete the RN program so that I can contribute to my family's financial security. In turn, I will be contributing to Nevada's economy as a more productive consumer and citizen.

    Nevada, especially Las Vegas, must diversify its economy. It has become necessary to produce more than housekeepers, dealers, and valets. It is time for Nevada to educate its denizens to be more than minimum wage earners and tip collectors.

    A recent study of 180 cities put the Las Vegas economy fourth from the last. We are on a long list of lasts. Education is the only way to correct our problems."

  16. Julie Foster wrote "When the recession hit, my husband, who had already lived through the earlier one of '89-'90 told me a simple truth: educate yourself for the future workforce--not the present one. This is a simple economic reality, and one that led to the prosperity of the 1990s. Therefore, to cut education in a time of crushing unemployment is like getting rid of lifeboats on a sinking ship in the hope that the lighter weight will allow the ship to sink more slowly giving yourself a little extra time.
    I researched all of my options and was so happy to have found NSC. I wanted to avoid the large campus experience and was basically looking for a reputable school with affordable tuition that would provide a great education. I admit I was a little worried when I found out about Nevada's education funding issues, but I wanted to take the chance and put my faith into the state. I am only in my second semester but I have been so impressed with the amazing faculty (the professors truly care about their students) as well as the very organized and ever so helpful administrative staff. I also love the fact that there is no "typical" student at NSC. There are students of all ages and backgrounds which makes it very comfortable and easy to fit right in. Like most of my fellow students, I do some juggling to make this all work. For me, it's being a mother, having a part-time job, and going to school full-time. I actually never thought I'd ever return to school for a completely different path, but how wonderful it is that the opportunity is there for the taking. This is a very important step for me and especially for my family. I am very excited to have this chance to enter a new profession -- a profession that I can be proud of. It is also a plus to know that I will be working alongside peers who chose a profession for the same reason of wanting to help others. As I drive the 45 minutes it takes each way to get to school, I think to myself, it is WELL worth it! My husband and I are trying to make a life for our family here in Nevada. We want to be proud to live in this state."

  17. Lyzsandra Benitez wrote "We should invest a lot more money into education to encourage students to pursue degrees in higher education. If we don't invest in our education systems now we will not be able to recover from the recession we are currently in. The cycle is going to just keep going on. This country needs educated leaders to keep this country going in the right direction but it will not be possible if others don't help invest in education.
    Budget cuts are already limiting schools in what they can and can't spend money on. Some of our most important student assistance programs are going to be cut and it's going to hurt most students; especially those who take advantage of these resources to help them with a class work.
    The government decides to spend money on investing in other things such as casino advertisement to attract tourist but won't make investing in education a priority?
    Budget cuts already affected many programs last year when after school curricular activities like basketball and soccer were cut. These activities helped many teens stay away from trouble in past years. It's no wonder our crime rate has raised in such little time."

  18. Theresa H Moore wrote "I am a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, born and raised. At fifty years of age I decided to complete my dream of completing my college education. As I investigated my options of colleges and Universities, I quickly felt the panic set in. I was overwhelmed and intimidated with the thought of classrooms filled with possibly hundreds of students, a professor and me. When I read and heard about the smaller class enrollment at NSC, I knew this would be perfect for me. As I start my third session here at NSC my confidence has soared, primarily due to the intimate classroom environment and the caring one on one guidance I have received when needed from my professors. NSC has been an important stepping stone in my reinvention and new life. I know I have a bright future."

  19. Millicent Frehner wrote "At the age of 50 I found myself divorced and with no way to support myself. I had no hope for the future, and did not want to be a burden on my child for the rest of my life. I tried to find a job that I could get and make enough money to support myself. I found that because I did not have a degree that there was no way I could find a good job. I found that the only way I could become self sufficient was to go back to school and get a degree. When I started back to school I found the hope of a better future, and the promise of a better life. I will be graduating this December with a psychology degree, a job as a human resources director, a livable salary and the ability to pay back my student loans."

  20. Nikki Phillips-Cote wrote "I decided to go back to school a year ago to complete my dream of becoming a nurse.
    I looked into UNLV, CSN and NSC.
    After making many inquiries I found out that Nevada State College was the best fit for me.
    For one reason I was able to become a student, apply for financial aid and pick my classes in a very short period of time. When I called CSN and UNLV they both quoted me 2 months to get into classes.
    Financial aide at NSC was very important to me, as a single woman raising 2 kids and 2 grandkids I was dependent on financial aid for returning to school. NSC was able to get it through and complete to cover my classes.
    Also the class sizes were much more appealing. The class sizes are much smaller so you have more one on one time with the professors. Also the science classes I so badly needed to get into were available for new student. The other school had their sciences filled by the returning students and the new students had no chance.
    I really hope even with all the budget cuts the decision makers realize there is a huge need for Nevada State College and that many of the mature returning students have found a home here for their studies."

  21. Ashley Brown wrote "I am going to school to be a nurse. If the higher education budget is cut in any capacity it will drastically increase the amount of time it takes me to graduate and get started in my career.

    I've recently discovered the exact type of nurse I want to be, an oncology nurse, while experiencing the death of my grandfather to lung cancer. I kept thinking about how all of the nurses were nice and caring as my grandpa was reaching his final hours. I want to be THAT nurse, the one that will be remembered because of how much others felt they were being cared about and for. I want it with every patient, every time. I can't be THAT nurse unless I have THE BEST quality education to back me up.

    Please find it in your hearts to leave the higher education budget alone. What if it was a family member, close friend or you who were sick? Knowing that you have it in your hands to help those who want to make a difference in the world and you're not going to do anything about it? Honestly, PLEASE find it in your hearts to do the right thing. Please."

  22. Jasmin Mulready wrote "My story is simple I'm the first person in my house hold to make it this far in school. I live in a small three bedroom apartment with a total of six of us (sometimes more depending on the circumstance) so that a big deal to us. I'm full time student on grant money and if it weren't for the grant I wouldn't be able to afford to go to school. I hope that my school gets more funding because it's a very important part of my, not just because I'm getting an education that would greatly improve the lives of my family ,but also because if I weren't for my school I wouldn't be able to have insurance. My school is giving me health, an education, resources I would have never had before, and a chance at a brighter future. Someday I hope to honor my school by making something of myself so I can give back to it. I hope my school and schools like it can get more funding to keep helping kids like me so that someday we to can return the favor."

  23. Cimmarah Lamberz wrote "I have resided in Las Vegas for many years now and even from a very early age I could recognize a lack of importance thrown into Nevada's educational system. Teachers here lack the ability to go one on one with their students; whether it's because classrooms are jam packed or they just don't care. A lot of them really don't care. They'll never lecture and just sit back assigning kids tedious worksheets for grades. A lot of kids drop out this way, just look at the statistics. Those who do move on to college here have a hard time getting the funds for it and are retaking classes they basically took in high school just to get to the level other American kids are on. Nevada once flourished because of tourism, with a bad economy this will no longer be sufficient to be able to live. Give us the money for public education and college educations. This gives us better teachers and opportunity. Get us back on our feet; it is impossible to make it without schooling."

  24. Zack Peters wrote "Where would our country be without higher education? You yourself as legislatures would not be in the position you are without attaining a degree from a higher education institution; many of you from places other than Nevada colleges. You have gone to other states to obtain your education before returning, or moving to, Nevada. We are fortunate for your return, when most people are stay away from the state once they leave. I am studying English and Secondary Education, and I want nothing more than to stay in Las Vegas. I want to help students in Middle or High school at achieve goals they don't realize are possible.

    As my governing body it is important for you to know that you have done nothing to show me that my career is of value to you and the state. When I graduate I will be forced to consider my options, and more than likely forced to say, "I'm taking my talents elsewhere."Talents this state would be fortunate to have.
    You might be able to trick others into staying here with false promises and no plans for economic growth, but I will not fall victim to your game. This is a great state that has plentiful resources in fields that would improve the state's economy. We would be a great place for bio-research, non-gaming corporate growth, and sociological research. These are all fields that require an educated populous, something I'm not confident we have. I have voted every chance I've had since turning 18.
    Whether or not I voted for you, you have the responsibility to act on the voice of the people. If you have an overwhelming response from citizens to leave education alone you are REQUIRED to act on that demand. You are in office to enforce the will of the people. If you are not doing so, you should, and at some point will, be removed from office. I gave up going to Johnson and Whales in Rhode Island, to stay her to become a teacher. I love this city. Not enough to suffer as an educator. I, and others like myself, will leave. Nine out of ten Nevadans say they would support tax increases to improve education. Please don't leave me with this ultimatum. Support education on all levels. Don't forget. You got an education. The rest of us deserve the same."

  25. @ Fan. Agreed. Somewhere along the way, $180,000 is lost in administrative costs. And yet, Mr. Weiler offers no explanation. If he worked in the private sector, he would be fired immediately for this kind of waste and mismanagement.

    Mr. Weiler is wasting away $180,000 per classroom in the Clark County School District and he is demanding taxpayers make up for his mismanagement.

    Nevada taxpayers say "NO"!

  26. @ jzetzman. With all due respect, YOU are the one who needs to educate yourself on the budget.

    The $7,000 per student I have quoted only pays for the General Fund items -- salaries, instructional materials, utilities, postage, liability insurance, and transportation.

    Special education, buildings and technology are covered in other areas. Total expenditures add up to over $3.5 BILLION, not just the $2.1 BILLION General Fund.

    Please refer to pages 13-14 of the CCSD budget:

    (WARNING: this is a 244 page 13Mb pdf file so it may take several minutes to download.)

    The pie chart breaks down the percentages. Note that a WHOPPING 87% of the $210,000 per classroom is devoted to salaries for teachers, administrators, support staff, and campus police. As fan mentioned, it takes THREE TIMES as much to "administer" each student as it does to teach each student.

    The system is broken. Nevada taxpayers want our young people educated, but we are fed up with corruption, waste and mismanagement in our public agencies.

    You want more money? Nevada taxpayers say "NO"!