Another Week, Another Round Of Cuts To Clark County Schools
The Clark County School District Board of Trustees approved another round of budget cuts recently, trying to shore up a budget deficit estimated to range from $60 to $70 million.
A significant shortfall by any account, many are wondering how they got in that situation to begin with.
Some say it's the district's mismanagement of funds, while some say it originates with funding formulas set by the state.
CCSD's Chief Financial Officer Jason Goudie said the root of the problem is two-fold; the district lost a costly labor arbitration earlier this summer, and the per-pupil funding for the fifth-largest school district in the country is just not where it should be.
Steve Canavero, the superintendent of public instruction at the Nevada Department of Education, has a different take on CCSD's budget.
“I think some stuff was missed,” he said, “I don’t necessarily agree with the portrayal that the Special Ed Contingency account dollars should be associated as a cut.”
Canavero explained it this way: If you were expecting a raise at work and you didn't get that raise that's not necessarily cut in your budget.
In addition to that, he feels the way the district budgeted wasn't carried through consistently.
As far as the funding formula, which is used to allocate where state dollars will go, Canavero said it's not unfair.
“The funding formula is what it is," he said, "I don’t know that it in some way, shape or form it somehow advantages one entity over another.”
One of the big problems Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky and others have had with the funding formula, which is outlined in the Nevada Plan, is that money from Clark County is moved out of the county to support other school districts around the state.
“Part of the idea of the Nevada Plan is that it is a Nevada Plan," Canavero said, "It’s not a Washoe County or Clark County plan or Esmerelda County plan. It’s a plan that covers the entire state.”
He said there is an ebb and flow to education dollars and where they are spent.
He also disagrees with the idea that the Nevada Plan hasn't been updated since the 60s. He said starting in 2011 the plan has been evaluated several times.
Money from a commerce tax passed in the 2015 Legislative session, plus taxes on recreational marijuana are all supposed to go into the state's K-12 education fund.
Canavero said when the Legislature returns to session in 2019 he hopes to come to lawmakers not just with a request for more targeted money but also with a list of successes.
“We’re upholding that side of the bargain," he said, "If you make additional investments in education we will deliver back transparency and we will deliver back performance and outcomes for kids.”
Whichever way the district got into the budget shortfall, some tough decisions have to be made to make up for the loss - including hiring freezes and program closures.
Steve Canavero, superintendent of public instruction, Nevada Department of Education