School board passes budget with $11 million increase

Liliana Castillo

The Clovis Municipal Schools board of education approved a budget with an increase of more than $11 million Tuesday, despite budget cuts to education across New Mexico.

The 2011-2012 budget was approved at $115,633,295. The 2010-2011 budget totaled $104,492,504.

CMS Chief Financial Officer Jose Cano said the increase is due largely to the amount of money the district has budgeted for capital outlay improvements. Capital outlay money is more than $39 million of the overall budget, which will be used for the numerous construction projects the district has ongoing.

Growth has also contributed to an increase the amount of the money the district gets from the state but the district will not be receiving growth funding.

Cano said school districts in New Mexico receive growth funding if they grow 1 percent or more. He said that while the district is expecting a growth of 2 percent, they are reporting less than 1 percent growth to the New Mexico Public Education Department because if they claim 2 percent in growth but don’t have the numbers to back it up, the PED will take away any growth funding in January. However, if the district does have proof of growth, the PED will award them growth funding at that time.

Cano said less than five districts out of the 89 in the state are showing an increase in enrollment.

CMS is staffing for a 2 percent increase but are also planning to increase class sizes, Cano said. Superintendent Terry Myers said the PED has provided a waiver for districts to increase class sizes up to 10 percent.

“If we have more students in classes, we need less teachers than we probably should,” Cano said. “We may be able to add when we get growth funding in January.”

The administration also reversed a money-saving change made last year. The district moved middle school athletics to outside the school day and were able to save the salary of two coaches. But due to increases in the sixth grade students this year, the district is moving middle school athletics back to during the school day.

Cano said participation had gone down significantly and with two less coaches, middle schools were able to offer limited choices for electives.

Coaches teach elective courses. With two less coaches at each school, less electives were being offered.

“There is a need there to do this with the limited number of electives were able to offer. There’s also a perception of doing what’s right for kiddos,” Myers said. “With the numbers growing, it’s not only worth it (to add two coaching positions) but it is necessary so we can have a certain number of electives.”

The budget did not include a raise for non-certified staff but non-certified staff will work four less days than they did last year and will be paid the same.

New employees hired after July 1 will not be paid for those four days.

The district had to absorb salaries for 20 positions which were previously paid for by federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money. The ARRA funds were temporary, Myers said, and were discontinued this year.

The district’s budget also includes a cash balance of almost $4.5 million. Cano said the cash balance is the “healthiest” it has been in at least six years. Myers said a cap on cash balances districts can hold was removed and a healthy cash balance allows the district the flexibility to add staff if needed after the PED approves the district’s budget.

To view full budget documents, visit www.clovis-schools.org/board_of_ed/board_meetings.html