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Nevada Official: Clark County School District can’t blame budget shortfall on state

Ronald Delos Santos

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Nevada-Clark County School District

The State of Nevada’s top education official took issue on Thursday, August 31, with Clark County educational institution officials’ statement that part of the district’s budget shortfall was originated from the declines in state funding, tacking the blame on mediocre planning on the district’s responsibility.

“To blame the state is erroneous here,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero. “I’m just pointing out that the math doesn’t add up and the focal point of their narrative is disingenuous at best.”

The Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky answered that the district is not blaming the Nevada state for its budget difficulty.

“We have to work together to not cast stones,” Skorkowsky said. “I understand that we had expenditures and estimations that were off from what the state had. We’re going back and looking at legislative bills to see where the disconnect is because it’s important to get to the bottom. That’s not the biggest issue, though. Blame is not where we’re at.”

The statements came just a day after the district declared a hiring freeze, stressing out that the total budget cuts this 2017 could reach to a whopping $70 million to $80 million. The statement came in a memorandum from Skorkowsky and Chief Financial Officer Jason Goudie that said extensive job layoffs are anticipated.

Nevada-Clark County School District

“We anticipate a reduction in force in October 2017 and … it is likely that almost every department and school will be affected,” the memo reads.

The Clark County School Board has already given Skorkowsky a green light to initiate the layoffs — or a reduction in workforce — as necessary, but it is still not clear how many job positions could be trimmed.

The senior school district officials were told to chop off around $11.8 million from the central services and individual educational institutions will have to narrow down their strategic budgets by $17.4 million in the first phase of the trimming.

But Superintendent of Public Instruction Canavero said that the district should have expected that those fundings wouldn’t match their conjectures. They don’t account for the majority of the district’s shortages, currently evaluated to be $50 million to $60 million.

“This isn’t a revenue problem. It’s a management problem. They’ve got their dollars, and they’ve got to live within that budget,” Canavero said.

Canavero further explained that the district is using the same political playbook as the past years, citing statements made from 2011 and 2015 when the locale was dealing with budget deficits.

“It’s a wonderful narrative to blame the state. It seems to pop up every cycle,” Canavero added.

The officials with the Clark County teachers union mirrored Canavero’s solicitude in a statement, stating that the district officials already knew back in June exactly how much money they were getting from Nevada.

“It’s unacceptable for CCSD to play politics with the livelihoods of over 18,000 education professionals that directly impact over 320,000 students. It’s unacceptable for Clark County School District Superintendent to scare the public and educators with such a cavalier approach to budgeting,” the Clark County teachers union officials said in a press statement.

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