Legislative cuts could mean pain for Clovis schools

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Joyce Baker, a part-time instructor at Clovis Community College, talks about the parts of the heart in an anatomy and physiology class at the college. A 1.5 percent cut would equal about $150,000 for the college.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ Staff Writer

A 1.5 percent cut in education spending by the state Legislature could mean painful losses of real dollars: $780,000 for Clovis Municipal Schools and $150,000 for Clovis Community College.

Gov. Bill Richardson is proposing a 1.5 percent cut in education spending at the special legislative session that started Saturday in Santa Fe. It’s part of the plan to make up for an anticipated $650 deficit and balance the state budget.

Both schools plan to keep cuts away from students and classrooms but won’t know the extent of the damage until the Legilsature makes its final decision on the issue.

Clovis Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said the district is asking each school site in the district for recommendations on how to cut their budgets by 5 percent.

“Any site that is not a school, we’re looking at how to cut the budget by 10 percent,” she said.

Seidenwurm said hiring is frozen in several positions in the central office, maintenance and operations departments.

“We won’t be surprised if the cut is larger than that (1.5 percent). A much greater concern are the cuts we’ve already had that no one is talking about how to replace when stimulus money goes away,” Seidenwurm said.

“What we’ve been trying to explain to our community is that we’ve already been cut and stimulus money has been helping cover those holes.”

Seidenwurm said administration is preparing to give the board options when a decision has to be made.

“Right now, that’s probably all we can do until the legislature goes home and we actually know what we’re faced with,” she said.

CCC President John Neibling said 1.5 percent is lower than expected but a cut isn’t a new idea for the college.

“We knew higher education was going to get a cut,” he said. “We’re going to handle it in two ways. First, of course, we’re going to find every way we can to reduce expenditures.”

Neibling said spending will be reduced by curtailing travel, looking at every supply budget and every discretionary account. He also said when the college has resignations or retirement, the college will either leave the position vacant or fill it with a less expensive replacement.

Neibling said if the college is unable to accommodate the 1.5 percent cut through a reduction in expenditures, the college will dip into some of their reserve.

“We never like to do that because you always want to have it there but that’s what why it’s there and we have to do it,” he said. “We feel everything we’ve done so far and everything we’ve looked at would protect the classroom because that’s our first priority.”