Clovis school board approves preliminary budget

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis Municipal Schools board heard a long-range suggestion to start its Tuesday meeting, and ended it with approval of a more immediate need — an $82.5 million budget for the 2009-10 year.

The budget, down from this year’s adjusted budget of $85.1 million but up from the 2008-09 estimation of $77.5 million, came at the end of a three-hour meeting that started with the suggestion to name its planned third middle school.

James Moss, a 1941 Clovis High graduate, said during the open forum of the meeting the board should consider Bataan Memorial Middle School, in honor of the 66 Clovis-area men who served in the 200th Coast Artillery, which made up part of 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war moved to Japanese prison camps from the Bataan peninsula.

Nearly half of the prisoners died in the Bataan Death March, Moss said.

There are three surviving Clovis and Portales men from the march — Lee Roach and Buren Johnston of Clovis, both in attendance at the meeting, and Irvin Butler of Portales.

Lonnie Leslie of Clovis came forth in support of Moss.

“This is a chance to honor a lot of folks who made a great sacrifice from Clovis and the surrounding areas,” Leslie said, in addition to giving students a constant reminder of those sacrifices.

Board President Lora Harlan thanked Moss for being forward-thinking on the school, which would be at least three years away.

Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm has communicated desires to build a third middle school to accompany Yucca and Marshall Middle Schools and include sixth-graders in the middle school mix. The change would pull sixth-graders from elementary campuses, increasing capacity across the district.

Jose Cano, chief financial officer for the district, said compiling the budget required about 400 hours of work from the staff. He said there were few salary increases — many simply brought lower-wage employees up to minimums required by the state — and state-mandated insurance changes that increase co-pay and deductible amounts.

He said the Clovis school district is much better than others across the state.

“We’re not swimming in money by any means,” Cano said. “(But) we’re not cutting back staff, we’re not cutting back budgets.”