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Las Vegas 'Worst Case' Budget Could Result In Hundreds of Jobs Lost

The superintendent of the 307,000-student Clark County School District in Nevada presented a tentative budget to the school board Wednesday that might mean the loss of more than 1,400 positions if the district's teachers' union doesn't make certain concessions.

However, the Clark County Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, counters that the district has other sources of revenue that it could use to balance its budget without freezing teachers' salaries. The issue is currently under arbitration.

The Clark County School District, the fifth-largest in the country, is not alone in facing continued economic weakness, according a survey released in March from the American Association of School Superintendents. For that report, the association interviewed 528 school administrators around the country, most of whom were district superintendents, deputies, or associate superintendents. The leaders in the survey said that most of them, about 66 percent, anticipated staff cuts in the 2012-13 school year. About 57 percent anticipated class size increases.

Clark County faces a "worst-case" budget shortfall of about $64 million for the 2012-13 school year, according to the budget presentation. The Las Vegas Sun reports that a "best-case" scenario, which includes salary freezes, would leave the district about $3 million in the hole. "We're challenged in a lot of areas, and we're trying to be as flexible and as efficient as we can, but there's only so much that we can do," said Jeff Weiler, the district's chief financial officer, in the article.

But Ruben Murillio, the president of the union, said teachers were starting to leave the district, worried about the increased class sizes that might come with staff layoffs. "Why would teachers come to the district when there is so much uncertainty?" he told the newspaper.

The district must submit a final budget to the state by June 8.

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