School board discusses budget shortfall

Liliana Castillo

State budget cuts mean a $750,000 shortfall in next year’s budget for the Clovis Municipal Schools.

The district’s Chief Financial Officer Jose Cano presented the breakdown of the 1.5 percent budget cut handed down by the state Legislature during Tuesday’s board of education meeting.

Cano said the district will receive a 1.82 percent increase in enrollment for fiscal year 2011-2012 and that, Cano said, will help lessen the blow.

Cano said $585,000 of the shortfall will go to pay teaching staff and certified staff that will move up in a salary scale or schedule.

Cano said another $125,000 to $150,000 will go to cover increases in utility costs which stem from an expected rate increase and more usage due to widespread construction in the district.

Superintendent Terry Myers said the administration has no intention of cutting staff or programs if possible. The district continues to use attrition to reduce costs and Myers said the distinct absorbed 15 to 19 positions last year through that practice.

“I’ve said it before, we can do without stuff but we can’t do without people,” Myers said.

Cano said that CMS has endured over 10 percent in cuts to funding over the last five years.

Funding for instructional materials was cut 50 percent from $30 million to $15 million, Cano said. Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Cindy Martin said another $800,000 will be taken from that budget to pay for dual credit.

Martin said with such an extensive cut, the district will have to evaluate each purchase.

“Sometimes we won’t be able to get all the bells and whistles with a package like workbooks or videos,” she said.

Martin said the district can continue to provide a quality education without such extras but it will require more work on the teachers part.

Myers said the district will reevaluate programs and move money from one program to another as needed.

“What we’ll do is look at where needs were and where they are now,” he said.

The superintendent plans to change the summer schedule for year-round employees to four 10 hour days, which will save the district about $10,000 in utilities and travel costs.

The board also approved a $345,000 expansion to the future Lockwood Elementary School building. The Public Schools Facilities Authority will pay for 80 percent of costs to build the school for about 365 students, with the district paying 20 percent. Shirley recommended building core areas such as a gym and cafeteria for 500 student, which will be needed with growth in the district. Shirley said the expansion couldn’t be made after the school is built and urged the board to approve the expansion.

Myers said the district has been receiving “significantly” lower bids than expected and that is providing the district with extra money to be able to fund expansions and projects that otherwise went unfunded.

Cano said when PSFA approves a project, they approve an estimated amount but if bids come in lower, the district can use extra funding from their portion on other projects.

In other business, the board:

• approved the consent agenda, which included bills, activity report, food service report, investment report and budget and expenditure report for February and other routine business items.

• heard a report from Nannette Sherman from the Student Support Center, thanking the board for funding that allows the center to do its job. Sherman played a slideshow for the board members and provided a copy for each.

• approved a request for travel for the Clovis High School Distributive Education Clubs of America to travel to Orlando, Florida for the International Conference for Career Development.

Six students will travel April 29-May 4.

• heard a report of growth scenarios for the region from Rick Draker, who is with the Regional Growth Planning Office.

Draker said the district could see an increase of about 1,600 students in the next 10 years.

• heard an update of plans for construction at La Casita Elementary School and the Arts Academy at Bella Vista from Paul Reed of PCR Architects.

• appointed Charles Guthals and Terry Martin as board representatives to the CMS Foundation board.

• discussed the future of the district’s property of 40 acres on 21st Street. The district purchased the 40 acres in the 1960s. Myers said if the district decides to sell the land, it should then look for another piece of land to be used as a future location of a school.

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley said the site, just east of Clovis Christian School is too close to existing elementary schools and middle schools to be used for either and is too small for a high school to be put on it.

The land was appraised for $10,000 an acre.

Myers said the administration will go forward with researching selling the land after bringing the idea to the board. Any formal interest in the land will be brought back to the board, he said.

• discussed disposition of the existing Lockwood Elementary School. Shirley said he is in discussions with the city to use the multipurpose areas of the school, including kitchen, playground and ball park as a community center for the southern part of town.

With approval from the board, Shirley will move forward with such negotiations with the city and PSFA.

• appointed Lonnie Leslie, Lora Harlan and G.C. Ross to the Review Hearing Authority.

Policy requires that the superintendent sit on the committee with at least one other person. Myers said there had been no need for the committee in recent past, but he said the district will be adding emphasis on keeping drugs and weapons out of school.

He said the authority will review any challenges to the district’s actions.

• approved the temporary suspension of two board policies, one about student organizations and one on limited open and closed forum, while they are reviewed.

• approved replacement of a glass enclosed hallway at Ranchvale Elementary School.

Director of Operations Gene Beiker said the hallway was creating a flooding issue. He said the glass will be replaced with walls and two or three windows on each side to let in light and the hallway will be razed. The project will cost $49,202.

• approved replacement of a glass enclosed hallway at Clovis High School in Building A. The project will cost $47,659.

• approved the purchase of an activity bus for $157,500.

Due to state regulations, the district cannot use buses after 20 years and the activity bus was purchased to replace an older bus. Beiker said after the purchase of this bus, the district won’t need to replace an aging bus for about five years.

• approved the purchase of a high intensity activated pedestrian crossing for Marshall Middle School. Beiker said the district will share the $37,927 price tag with the city 50/50.