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Schools turn to parent donations to save teacher positions

Posted at 6:27 PM, Sep 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 17:26:33-05

With budget cuts plaguing the Clark County School District, some principals are hoping to save teacher positions by asking parents for help.

At Twitchell Elementary School in Henderson, Principal Michele Wooldridge sent out a letter to parents expressing concerns over budget cuts.  Because enrollment at the school was lower than expected, their budget went down $130,000, causing them to lose a 4th grade teacher, and two temporary tutors.

The principal was also concerned about future cuts, and suggested parents donate $75 per student or $150 per family with a goal of $62,000, enough for one teacher's salary and benefits.

So far, they've raised about $29,000 towards that goal of October 9th. Many parents told us, they donated for the sake of their childrens' educations, but also questioned why they were put in that position.  "Well, you want them to have a good education, and this is a good school," one grandparent told us.

But Trustee Kevin Child says he's concerned about the fundraisers.  He says funding follows each student equally, but these fundraisers give an advantage to more affluent students whose parents can afford these kinds of donations.

"If you're in Henderson in a richer area, parents can give money. But what about the impoverished areas? They get cheated and that's not fair," Child says.

Superintendent Jesus Jara also expressed concerns as says he's looking into the fundraising policies, telling 13 Action News in a statement:

"I always appreciate the resourcefulness of our principals, who have been doing more with fewer resources. However, I want to ensure it is clear to everyone that what is happening right now is our annual adjustment of teachers based on enrollment. Some schools are experiencing lower-than-projected enrollment, and therefore positions are being transferred to schools that need additional teachers based on their enrollment. The adjustments happening right now are not due to budget cuts -- in fact, these adjustments occur every year in the fall. "I am going to ask my staff to review our current fundraising policy. While I fully support schools fundraising for programs, technology and even curriculum, I have concerns about allowing schools to fund raise for personnel for these reasons: "Not all schools have families in the position to donate money to their school. “I encourage parents who are upset about funding at their schools to have conversations with their legislators about modernizing Nevada's funding formula, which was first created in 1967 and is not serving the needs of today's schools or students. "Principals should not have to worry about fundraising to staff their classrooms. They should have adequate resources to ensure the success of all students and remain focused on instruction to make sure all children have access to rigorous and enriching educational experiences.

The Clark County Education Association, which represents teachers also weighed in:

“No school should have to resort to donations and charity to hold onto qualified educators and pay salaries, or sacrifice qualified educators due to lack of sufficient funding, especially in our most at risk schools. The recent stories at some CCSD schools seeking donations to keep educators only highlights the critical need to secure additional education funding. CCEA is committed to getting our schools, our educators, and our students the funding and the resources they need to be successful. 

The district says they hope parents who are concerned about funding take those concerns to state lawmakers as they prepare for next session, and demand more investment in CCSD.

The CCEA also mentioned Local Funding Sources as a potential solution, and Trustee Child also says he wants to make sure marijuana money is being used directly for education.