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Vegas-area school president mulling state lawsuit
by Associated Press
Mar 18, 2011 | 1830 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LAS VEGAS — The school board president in Las Vegas is raising the specter of suing the state over what she calls a failure by Nevada lawmakers to fulfill their constitutional duty to fund education.

Clark County School Board President Carolyn Edwards raised the idea before more than 100 people during a budget workshop Thursday at a Las Vegas high school, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

"I think we need to have a conversation about suing the state for not fulfilling its duties," she said.

Edwards said the district won't be able to manage funding cuts projected at $250 million to $400 million based on reductions in state support and declining local property and sales tax revenues.

The district is the fifth-largest in the nation, with almost 310,000 students and 18,000 licensed teachers at more than 350 campuses. Its budget has declined in recent years from almost $2.25 billion in 2008-09 to a little more than $2.1 billion last year.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed reducing state support to public education by 9 percent, or more than $200 million statewide, in the 2011-13 budget. He proposes 5 percent cuts in teacher salaries and a $270 reduction in per-pupil support.

Sandoval vows not to raise taxes.

Because the school district is a part of government, district officials doubted it has legal standing to sue the state.

But Edwards said another group such as a Parent Teacher Association or an employee union could sue.

District lawyer Bill Hoffman said lawsuits have been filed in other states, but he thought it would be a first in Nevada.

Teachers union chief Ruben Murillo said the Clark County Education Association hadn't discussed legal action against the state, and said it could be so expensive that it would take a coalition of groups to mount a case.

Because of the magnitude of the proposed cuts, school trustees wondered what would happen if they didn't submit a budget by the legal deadline, June 16.

Schools don't expect to know their funding level until the Legislature adjourns, scheduled June 6.

Hoffman said that if the district failed to submit a budget, the state Department of Taxation would impose one.

Superintendent Dwight Jones has said he will present a budget plan to the board by March 24.

The district has set a goal of a passing its final budget for 2011-12 on May 16.
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