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Las Cruces Public Schools may face $6M deficit: More teachers than necessary

The Las Cruces Public School System could be facing a $6 million deficit. It’s a situation that has been looming for five years, but may come to a head by the end of the fiscal year.

“Suppose you are making your house payments,” said LCPS Superintendent Stan Rounds. “That’s what we’ve been doing for the last three years. But we can no longer do that. Our savings account is about tapped out.”

The problem grew out of hand when Centennial High School opened. The district moved 350 students out of all area high schools, but did not downsize staff. The district had hoped legislative funding and growing enrollment would have replenished the cash balance, but that wasn’t the case.

Eight years ago the district was in a similar situation and cut $1 million.

“We know how to get back to the up cycle we just have to go through some decision points,” Rounds said.

He says ways to set the budget on a stable course will begin by cutting staff costs, by way of attrition and retirement, or “right-sizing” it to about 85 percent of the budget. In comparison, El Paso Independent School District spends 44 percent of its budget on instruction and staff, a smaller district, Canutillo ISD spends 50 percent.

“The balance is getting your recurring revenue and recurring costs to balance,’ Rounds said. “And we’ve been out of balance. Now we need to bring it back in here.”

Currently LCPS cash reserves are at $8.2 million, $5 million of that was spent on the current school year. By the end of the fiscal year LCPS will be at $3.3 million. If LCPS continues at the current rate that could mean a $6.5 million deficit.

“Without taking strong actions today, next year’s budget simply won’t work,” Rounds said.

Cuts will take place from the classroom to administration.

Rounds said to help reduce staff most school campuses will see an increase in blended schedules, which is a combination of block and straight schedules. High school staffing is currently 16 students per teacher. Round’s goal is to increase the ratio to 19-to-1.

No one is expected to lose their job. Rounds will present these ideas at the next board meeting.

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