School district looking at reducing staff

The Churchill County School Board expressed their concern at their Thursday meeting with talks of looming budget cuts that may cost several district employees their jobs.

Director of Business Services Phyllys Dowd submitted a list of recommendations to the trustees of the positions that should be cut.

Churchill County School District Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon said the recommendations given to trustees are of licensed staff.

“One thing that we will need to accomplish before May 1,” Sheldon said, “is to identify the licensed staff that will need to be riffed.”

Dowd said the district currently has a deficit of $500,000-$600,000.

Trustee Steve Nunn said he was not happy about the budget cuts and the deficit.

“Where are we going to get a half a million dollars?” Nunn said. “Riff on the people who are left to riff?”

Nunn said he doesn’t agree with the process of how the situation is being handled. He said the district is left with zero options except riffing employees.

“Nobody was asked for recommendations or input,” Nunn said. “I would have been glad to hear our president say, ‘We need to have this extra board meeting to get input from our employees and from the public.’ This should have happened six months ago.”

Sheldon said staff is working very hard to identify all areas the district can consolidate to save jobs.

“We’re recommending 17 positions to be cut,” Sheldon said, “but we’re only riffing six people. I’m looking at specific programs that are costing us a lot of money so we’re able to save as many jobs as we can.”

Sheldon said three positions would be cut at the high school, two at the middle school and the 12 remaining positions at the elementary schools.

Trustee Nona McFarlane said she was frustrated with the lack of information being provided to the board.

“Sandra, you and your leadership people are meeting and having conversations, and the board is sitting on the outside,” McFarlane said. “We’ve talked about two math programs being cut and I asked the other day what’s that going to do to the class sizes? I’m not hearing anything from the teachers. We’re hearing from the people at the top … from the people it won’t be affecting.”

McFarlane said cutting these positions won’t only affect the individuals but also the students.

“That is a disservice to our kids,” McFarlane said. “For two years now we’ve had hundreds of kids exit out of here because of the service to our kids.”

McFarlane said the district must know what its financial situation is but comes up with budget deficits of hundreds of thousands of dollars and the only solution offered is cutting programs and positions.

“My problem is, if she (Dowd) sees us going down that road … why is it we’re not informed with the process?” McFarlane said. “If we go into this and cut programs and we cut staff and we come in with a $3 million budget and we don’t offer our employees a pay increase … if we’re doing this to our students … we should have someone come in here and take us over because this is a sad process.”

Sheldon said the district has a serious situation with the deficit. She said it is her job to make the recommendations to the board and put together the proposals.

“You can either take them all or you can take none of them,” Sheldon said. “It’s my job to present you with as many options as possible so you’re able to make the decisions you need to make. I hope we’re able to get through this as diligently as we can.”

After further discussion the trustees decided to hold a public meeting Monday at 7 p.m. in the Churchill County Administration Office, 690 S. Maine St., to receive information regarding the budget and to discuss it.

Other items discussed and/or approved by the trustees include the following:

No action taken for purchase of extended warranty for two new school buses at a total cost of $11,800.

Awarded contract to Ferguson Construction in the amount of $512,752 for Churchill County High School restroom renovations.

Awarded contract to Building Solutions Inc. in the amount of $2.4 million for E. C. Best Elementary School Long building, library and restroom renovations.

Approved tentative budget for year ending June 30, 2015.

Approved ratification of the 2013-2014 School Year Tentative Agreement between Churchill County School District and the Nevada Classified School Employee Association including fiscal impact data.

Approved district recommendations for early retirement incentive program based on revised spreadsheet.

Approved process and time line for superintendent evaluation.


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