Schools predict $2.75 million in add-backs |

Schools predict $2.75 million in add-backs

Scott Neuffer
Tribune news service

MINDEN, Nev. – With no guarantee and a large grain of salt, Douglas County School District Superintendent Lisa Noonan expressed hope Tuesday night that the district will receive about $2.75 million in additional funding from the state for fiscal year 2011-12.

The recent budget agreement between Gov. Brian Sandoval and state lawmakers set K-12 funding at higher levels than expected. The district had budgeted around a $5.5 million gap.

“My best guess is that we’ll get at least half of that back,” Noonan told board members.

Assuming the cost of each teacher in wages and benefits is $65,000 a year, the projected amount would equal about 42 teaching positions.

In May, three dozen Douglas County teachers received pink slips. One administrative position and nine support staff positions were eliminated. Additional positions throughout the district were eliminated through consolidation and/or attrition, while contract hours were reduced for several employees.

Noonan cautioned against assuming the money is a given. She said the numbers still need to be filtered through the Nevada Department of Education.

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“It’s better than we planned for,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s going to reverse everything.”

School board members plan to start the add-back process at their next regular meeting, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. July 12 at the Lake Tahoe public library, 233 Warrior Way.

Trustee Ross Chichester urged the district to inform employees of their work status as soon as possible. He also encouraged the district to help those who will not be returning to locate work elsewhere.

“It doesn’t do us any good if they are on unemployment,” he said, “us as a community and us as the state of Nevada.”

In a letter to The Record-Courier, School Board President Sharla Hales expressed sadness over the loss of employees.

“Members of the Board of Trustees are deeply saddened at having to cut the jobs of valued and important employees,” she said. “We publicly acknowledge the skills and positive influence we are losing. We know that the reduction of many of these employees will leave gaping holes at our schools and in our district because we have heard about them from students, parents, administrators and community members.

“Many of the teachers we are losing performed above and beyond expectations. They created caring connections with students. They came early and stayed late. They worried about every child’s success. They chaperoned dances and field trips, and attended musical concerts and drama productions. They coached sports. They served as exemplary role models. They mentored and tutored. They worried about the success of every child.”

The question still remains where additional funding will be allocated. Some administrators have started lobbying for their priorities.

“Given the reduction in force of so many of our teachers, several of our classrooms will have between 28-30 students, not the intended 25 as allocated,” elementary school principals, as a group, wrote in a June 14 letter to the board. “Please allocate the additional funding to add as many classroom teachers back into our elementary schools over all other priorities. We know that art, music, physical education, and other services are important in our schools, but nothing is more imperative than excellent, quality classroom teachers that will impact our students.”

Whatever school board members decide in the coming months, one thing is clear:

“Nothing makes up for the jobs we have lost,” Noonan said.