Official: Schools finding ways to do more with less

Liliana Castillo

With an overall budget cut and a cut to the per student funding, educators in Curry County are trying to find ways to do more with less.

Per student funding will decrease by $126 under the new state budget. General budget funding will be cut 2.2 percent. Combined, that’s a 3.4 percent hit.

The cut ranges between $1.2 million for Clovis Municipal Schools and $155,000 for Melrose Municipal Schools.

Cuts for Texico and Grady schools were not available.

CMS Superintendent Terry Myers said education funding levels are what they were in 2006.

“We’ve taken a large step backwards as a state as far as adequate funding for the classroom,” Myers said.

Over the last three years, public schools in New Mexico have suffered a 12 percent cut in overall funding.

Myers said CMS plans to handle the cuts as they have before — by attrition, cutting travel budgets, supply budgets, cash balances and maneuvering grant and federal funding to fill in where possible.

“Either way you look at it, we’ll be doing more with less than what we have had in the past,” Myers said.

Melrose Superintendent Jamie Widner said $155,000 in cuts will be difficult to swallow but with a successful bond election in February, the district will still be able to take care of its buildings.

“When I took the job last year, I said this is the worst budget Melrose has ever had. I was wrong. It’s next year’s,” he said.

Widner said Melrose is fully staffed for the first time in three or four years and he wants to keep it that way.

“We’re not going to cut teachers,” he said. “I really feel like it’s more important to have someone here and save jobs and if we have to spend our whole budget on salaries and benefits, we’re going to do that.”

Widner said the district intends to continue to provide the full education experience by continuing extracurricular organization such as Future Farmers of America and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

“We have to develop the total child,” he said. “We’re going to continue to do that even with the budget cuts. If we can’t make it work, we’ll ask for emergency funding.”

Widner said the Melrose education board is open to the idea of releasing emergency funding.

Texico Assistant Superintendent Dennis Roch said the per student spending amount has been cut over $300 between 2008 and 2010.

“We are in a challenging position to make sure we can balance maintaining services and balancing the budget,” Roch said.

Roch said the Texico education board has taken a strong position against cutting staff but the district won’t be increasing salary for its staff.

“It’s an unavoidable fact right now that we don’t have the money to increase salaries,” he said.

Texico is also looking at making schedule changes to help cut spending.

“We are going to use personnel differently than we have in the past to make sure all our programs do continue,” Roch said.

Myers and Roch said both districts have planned well for the future which will help the process.