How the Clark County school board is inflating its budget hole

Victor Joecks

It’s amazing how simple – and deceptive – the big-government playbook is.

Want to increase state spending? Claim the state has a $3 billion deficit and don’t tell anyone that this figure assumes a $2 billion spending increase.

Want to increase K-12 education funding? Claim the governor’s budget cuts education funding by $1.1 billion, even though Nevada will be spending only $49 million – or $45 per student – less through the Distributive School Account than it did in the last two years.

The Clark County school board is following the misleading practices of leftist legislators.

Last night the Clark County school board approved its tentative budget, while claiming that it has a $407 million shortfall.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Weiler declined to discuss hypothetical situations after the School Board reluctantly and “under protest” passed a final budget for 2011-12 that includes a $407 million funding shortfall and requires 1,800 job cuts.

Except that the school district is going to have $159 million it didn’t include in its “tentative” budget.

Because of improving economic conditions, district officials anticipate having an additional $69 million in state funding for next year.

That money was not formally included in the budget, because the numbers are still being verified.

The district’s budget also assumes it will not take $90 million from the debt service fund to pay for operational expenses as Gov. Brian Sandoval has recommended.

The article also reports that the district is counting on $167 million in union concessions or it will have to lay off 2,500 more employees. If that number is accurate, that’s an average salary-and-benefits package of $66,800.

If you multiple $66,800 by the 1,800 jobs that would be cut under the district’s tentative budget, the result is $120 million.

Remember that $159 million school district officials aren’t telling you about? It could be used to eliminate any jobs cuts (although letting bad teachers go would actually improve student achievement).

But being honest wouldn’t generate outrage. Being honest wouldn’t scare teachers, parents and students.

Cynical officials hope that fear turns into cries of outrage – even if those fears are based on falsehoods.

Don’t be fooled again.