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Douglas schools pink slips may go out before Legislature completes budget

Kurt Hildebrand / Tribune News ServiceMore than 30 people attended a Douglas County School Board meeting on Tuesday night to hear a budget workshop.
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MINDEN, Nev. –  The difference in time between when the Douglas County School District and the Nevada Legislature must finish their respective budgets could equal more than 50 pink slips for district employees.

“If we don’t get pink slips out to certified employees before the May 1 deadline, then I own those employees,” Superintendent Lisa Noonan said Wednesday night.

Those pink slips may not all mean layoffs depending on what the Legislature approves and the governor signs.



More than 30 people attended a Douglas County School Board of Trustees budget workshop on at Douglas High School.

The news wasn’t good.



The district has to make up a $6 million gap based on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget. Because of the requirement that pink slips go out by May 1 to certified employees, who are mostly teachers, and by mid-May to classified employees, the district must determine which jobs are associated with layoffs.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Noonan said. “I’m from California where we never have any money, but this is much worse.”

The process proposed by Noonan and district business manager Holly Luna is focus on student needs first, then make reductions to district office and districtwide departments before going into the classroom.

The $6 million total will be offset by retirements, resignations and leaves of absence and declining enrollment decreasing the total to $5.62 million.

Elimination of an assistant principal, nine elementary school teachers and seven secondary school positions will equal about $1.15 million. With additional cuts that would contribute to bring the district to within $3 million of its budget shortfall.

After the meeting, Noonan said she hoped that the budget presented to trustees is the worst case scenario.

“I’m hoping this is the worst case, but I don’t have any evidence to support that, just hope,” she said.

The school district must complete its tentative budget in April and it’s final budget by May.

However, the money for the budget comes from the Nevada Legislature, which isn’t expected to be finished until June.

School Board trustee and former government teacher Randy Green likened the process to watching an NBA basketball game.

“You only need to watch the last 4 minutes to find out what happens,” he said. “They have it in their power to do the budget earlier, but that’s not going to happen this year.”

Trustee Ross Chichester, who does the budget for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said the district isn’t alone.

“You have to do what you have to do,” he said. “It’s not just you, it’s everybody.”

Board members thanked members of the audience for their input.

“I haven’t heard one person say don’t cut me,” trustee Cindy Trigg said. “Thanks so much for that.”

Brian Rippet, president of the Douglas County Professional Education Association, said he looked forward to working with the school district in examining all the options.

The district will host a series of public meetings starting next week to gather public input on the budget.


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