The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Kevin Wilson

Clovis school board talks budget cuts, drop in early attendance


Last updated 8/29/2020 at 3:28pm

CLOVIS — With the school year just starting in online-only mode, Clovis Municipal Schools Board of Education members dealt with news of budget cuts and a big drop in early attendance.

Deputy Superintendent of Finance Shawna Russell gave the board an update during Tuesday’s virtual meeting about unit value decreases from the state that equated to $2.6 million. With budget troubles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russell said she anticipates additional reductions in the unit value in January.

When asked about attendance numbers, board members were told the district enrollment was currently down 1,270 from last year’s estimated 7,800.

In many cases, officials said, children who attended CMS schools in the 2019-20 year were rolled into this year, and those children have yet to log in to online courses.

Enrollment normally picks up after Labor Day, but usually the district is short less than 200 students.

When the district is cleared by the state to return to in-person instruction, students will be in three different cohorts, two of which each meet on campus two days a week and go virtually the other three and an online-only cohort. The online-only cohort has 1,913 students.

Russell also presented board members an amended fleet service contract with Adair, Inc. that reduced the overall contract by $95,890 due to cuts from the recent legislative special session. Board member Cindy Osburn said it seemed like the board had already made several revisions to the contract, to which Russell responded, “It’s going to be a tough year.”

In other business at the meeting:

• The board approved a sale for the final $5 million of the $20 million in bonds approved by voters in 2017. Representatives with RBC Capital Markets anticipate the bond sale will likely take place Thursday, and the district should have the money available around Oct. 7.

• The board approved a series of policies to bring the district in compliance with federal Title IX requirements. Deputy Superintendent of Employee Services Joe Strickland said changes require an investigating officer and a coordinator be different people, where in the past he would fill both roles. Strickland will continue to act as the district’s Title IX coordinator, with five investigating officers — two elementary employees, two secondary employees and one administrative employee. Strickland said he has a wide array of investigators because an investigator cannot work a case at their own work site. Also, Superintendent Renee Russ was appointed as the appeals officer.

• Cannon Air Force Base liaison Sara Williams thanked the district for an Aug. 10 virtual meeting that had 10 district employees to handle questions for the upcoming year. She said employees answered every question they got, even the repetitive ones. After the meeting, Williams noted that calls from parents dropped substantially, which she attributed to the information provided at the meeting.

• Russ said the Public Education Department canceled a Wednesday visit from Secretary Ryan Stewart, which she called disappointing because she felt Stewart would come away impressed with how prepared district sites were for a COVID-safe return to in-person school.

• The next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22.


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