By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer
Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm is in the midst of a week of meeting with community leaders to talk about a possible 10 percent cut in state money.
“I am sharing with them how much education has already been cut. No one’s felt it yet because we have stimulus funding to back fill it,” Seidenwurm said. “But the stimulus money goes away after next year.”
The district already suffered a $3.5 million cut, but received $3.5 million dollars in federal stimulus money to fill the gap in the operational budget this fiscal year, Seidenwurm said.
“I am making our public aware that we are already in the hole,” she said. “It’s not that education doesn’t want to take our share of the cut. We’ve already been cut.”
Seidenwurm said the cuts thus far equal about 8 percent and money-saving steps have already been taken.
A temporary hiring freeze has been implemented at the central office and in other positions.
Seidenwurm said she is planning to hold public meetings after the Oct. 17 legislative session and the district has more answers.
“I don’t believe for a minute that we’re going to get a 10 percent cut,” Seidenwurm said. “I can’t imagine that on top of the cuts we’ve already had.”
Seidenwurm said she believes the 10 percent number was handed down by legislators headed to Santa Fe for the special session to make a realistic 3 or 4 percent cut seem easier to deal with.
She said a 10 percent cut by the state would be devastating.
“If we do get a 10 percent cut, we’ll be looking at nothing outside of reading, writing and arithmetic. And possible and probably shortening of the school year simply because we can’t afford to pay people for the whole year. But I don’t want to alarm people because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Seidenwurm said a 4 percent cut would totally wipe out the district’s cash balances.
“It would be irresponsible for a district with 1,100 employees and 8,400 students to operate with no cash balances. If a heater goes out in a building, that’s what our cash balance is for,” she said.
Seidenwurm said the board would try to keep any cut away from the classroom.