Las Vegas Sun

November 23, 2014

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CCSD plans to hire new teachers as student enrollment rises

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MONA SHIELD PAYNE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Thirty-five fourth-grade students in Ms. Fennoy’s class utilize tables instead of desks to tolerate the overcrowding and tight quarters of their portable classroom, which exceeds the average of 30 students, at William V. Wright Elementary School, Friday, March 22, 2013.

The Clark County School District is planning to hire hundreds of new teachers, support staffers and administrators next year to address its growing student population.

After several years of budget and staffing cuts, the School District is expecting increased property tax revenues and state funding as Las Vegas begins to rebound from the Great Recession.

A better economy means more money for schools, but also more jobs and more home developments in Las Vegas. Those new jobs and homes translates to more students enrolling in the nation’s fifth-largest school system.

District officials project another record-breaking enrollment count next school year: 317,970 students, up 3,327 pupils from this year. Officials also expect continued growth in the number of special education students, which has increased fourfold in the past decade.

To accommodate the additional students, district officials presented a new staffing plan to the School Board this morning. The seven-member board is expected to vote on the plan later this month before submitting its tentative budget for fiscal 2015 to the Nevada Department of Taxation.

Jim McIntosh, the School District’s chief financial officer, said the additional state funding and tax revenue will help hire more staff for students. However, he said the district has a long way to go before returning to pre-recession staffing and funding levels.

“We have not been able to restore class sizes, programs and textbooks to pre-recession levels, even with the additional funding,” McIntosh said. “We are nowhere near out of the woods.”

Here’s what you need to know about the School District’s staffing plan:

    • New teachers, support staff

      The School District plans to hire 372 teachers and 169 support staffers to handle the additional 3,300 students next year and also comply with a new state mandate that kindergarten student-teacher ratios be capped to 23 to 1. The new hires will cost the district $35.5 million.

    • More school administrators

      The School District also plans to hire 12 assistant principals at elementary schools with more than 550 students, and 16 deans at middle schools with more than 1,300 students. This will cost the district $3.1 million.

    • How to pay for the hires

      The School District will fund its new staffing plan with a $43 million increase in property tax revenue and a $20 million increase in state per-pupil funding. Next year, Clark County expects to receive $5,544 per student, an $87 increase from this year.

      The district also is cutting contracts with CatapultLearning ("Edison" schools) and possibly Ombudsman Educational Services, an alternative education program serving at-risk students. This is expected to save the district more than $7 million.

    • Employee shifting

      As the School District ramps down its 1998 school building program, it has shed about 450 positions from its capital projects department since 2006. Next year, the district plans to transfer six employees to other departments and eliminate seven employees.

    • District budget breakdown

      About 88 percent of the School District’s $2.2 billion general fund budget goes to salaries and benefits for employees. The remainder goes for textbooks, supplies and other services.

    • New spending on academic programs

      In addition to the staffing plan, the School District plans to spend additional money for academic programs, including:

      • $36 million in state grants to lower kindergarten class size ratio to 23 students to 1 teachers and implement full-day kindergarten to 191 schools, or 88 percent of all CCSD elementary schools.

      • $8 million for professional development to implement more rigorous academic standards

      • $2 million for a new student data visualization program that will track test scores, attendance and disciplinary information for elementary to high schoolers.

      • $560,000 for a new community outreach program called Family and Community Engagement. The district plans to hire about 30 parent engagement staffers who will work with parents to help teach their students.

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