Teacher salary scale taxing school budget

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Preliminary sketches of the Clovis Municipal Schools operating budget depict a coffer that will likely need to be replenished through staff cuts and emotionally laden changes in operation, school officials said Tuesday.

To maintain a healthy budget balance for the upcoming school year, the district needs to find a way to save about $400,000, Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said during a special work session at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“At the end of the day, what do our children need to have in order to be successful? That,” Seidenwurm said, “is the critical question” in deciding where money can be spared.

Seidenwurm said she will likely cut the Clovis High School staff by eight teachers through attrition or by shuffling some to junior high schools.

But administrators also want to purchase a $50,000 Web-based information management system whereby parents could monitor student progress and staff could manage their workloads. “That is the reason I am asking we dig a little deeper,” Seidenwurm said.

The operating budget is strapped as a result of a three-tiered salary system, a state mandate that will increase the salaries of school personnel, from teacher’s aides to maintenance personnel, school officials said. The raises, ranging from 5 percent to more than 9 percent depending on position, must be implemented in the next school year, school officials said.

“The funding for the three-tiered salary system is not sufficient,” said Michael Erwin, CMS director of finances.

The school board spent about an hour batting around cost-saving measures. Some suggestions: Charging entrance fees for use of school property, including gymnasiums and auditoriums; cutting funding for the purchase of art on school campuses, and chiseling school purchases to the bare minimum.

“We are talking about people and programs that are near and dear to people’s hearts,” School Board President Mark Lansford said.

“It comes down to a value judgment. What do we value and how do we support what we value?” he asked.

School board members decided to postpone further discussion of the operating budget and how to keep it inflated.

A special session to address the issue will likely be called, school board members said.