Savvy CCSD principal avoids cutting staff at middle school

Raising The Bar

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - School is about to start and some of our schools could look quite different this year. That's because the Clark County School District had to cut $68 million from its budget. At least 260 schools had to cut staff.

But we found a principal who was ready. Because of her emergency planning, families at Kenny Guinn Middle School won't even notice.

The halls are quiet at Kenny Guinn Middle School as staff prepares for students. But once school starts, this place is bustling hours before the bell rings in the morning.

Principal Georgia Taton says, "I've never walked into the building when there aren't students here. They're sitting outside on the bench or they're sitting in the dark in the cafeteria."

That's because students know their school is a safe place for them to be. This Title One school has many challenges like providing free meals, clothes and support to these students. But the biggest challenge comes from outside the building in the form of budget cuts.

"Here we go again. It was kind of a frustration level. Are you kidding me? You want me to cut one more time. What are we going to do?"

Taton has been in education since 1973 and the principal at Kenny Guinn Middle School for the past 14 years. This isn't her first rodeo. She's been through budget cuts before and she was savvy enough to know it would happen again. This go around? She had to cut $173,000 from her budget.

"We were looking for it and ready for it. We left money in the services pies, we knew we could pull from there. Plus we had the special-ed position we didn't fill."

Taton worked with her staff and parents to tuck away rainy day money to ensure no staff members would be cut. But that means they didn't fill positions they were hoping for. Taton says the average Kenny Guinn family won't notice the budget cuts.

"But it still hurts. It still hurts. Where they're going to feel the effect is in the size of the classes. They're going to be full."

Taton would love to get class sizes down to 24 students but her average class size will be 34-38. Nevada is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to teacher/student ratio. Taton's message to lawmakers? More bills and laws only go so far. You have to fund education.

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Together with parents, educators, business and community leaders, 13 Action News will lead the discussion on improving education in Southern Nevada. We will connect families with solutions that empower our community to build a foundation for a successful future.