Am I the only one sick of this BS? Two stories have come to light recently that show how taxpayers’ money is being wasted by the Clark County School District. These examples not only point out the quality of the district’s decision-making, but also make me wonder what other questionable expenses haven’t yet been discovered.
Did you know that the school district has a budget of more than $3 million a year for legal expenses, but is spending even more than that? The CCSD Office of General Counsel consists of an administrator, 10 attorneys and a staff of nine, and also has a budget of $500,000 a year to hire additional attorneys. For the last three fiscal years, they’ve spent $2.1 million for outside attorneys alone. And next fiscal year, CCSD has budgeted a total of $800,000 a year for outside attorneys, and increased payments from $250 an hour to $330 an hour.
Outside attorneys have been hired to defend the district against a wrongful death suit involving a teenager who got drunk at a party involving CCSD police employees and got into a car accident that killed a young woman. The suit alleges that the CCSD police then attempted to cover up the incident. Attorneys have also defended officials against ethics charges and fought a lawsuit brought by a whistleblower who says she was demoted after reporting her superior’s wrongdoing.
The Review Journal recently reported that the school district has been paying a company called Emergenetics International to give district administrators and School Board members a survey that’s supposed to show the way the person thinks, with color-coded labels like blue for “analytical thinkers,” and red for “social thinkers.” The theory is that knowing their associates’ profiles will help them communicate better. Over the past six years, the district (meaning you, the taxpayer) has spent about $350,000 for these personality profiles. At a time when teachers are bringing their own school supplies from home and classrooms are overcrowded, what sense does it make to spend money for these touchy-feely programs?
Now the teachers union has come up with what has been commonly called a “Kill Nevada Business” ballot question and wants Nevada businesses to pony up 2 percent of their gross receipts (gross, not net) to raise money for Nevada’s top-heavy, poor performing school districts to spend on wasteful items like these. Question 3 on the November ballot is being promoted as a way to raise funds for better education, but it is a business killer. It doesn’t even contain a provision specifying that the money extorted from businesses must be used for classroom instruction. Who knows where the money will actually go?
There may be a glimpse of hope as the District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky has formed a panel of 13 high-profile citizens to review the CCSD budget and look for ways to cut waste and create efficiencies. Skorkowsky insists that the committee will question every expense using zero-based budgeting, and that nothing is off the table except expenses mandated by federal and state government. The committee will meet for the next few months and report its findings in December. I sincerely hope it will present reasonable alternatives to the current CCSD spending spree, and that the superintendent will use its findings to make real changes instead of giving them lip service and going back to business (and spending) as usual.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained! If you have other Nevada state or local government waste stories, please email them to me. (If news worthy and verifiable, I’ll publish them.) It is my prayer and hope that we can make a big enough noise that our government actually hears us and changes its course to a course of common sense and sound governing... A government of the people, by the people, for the people.
By Whose Authority?
For more information on my Commentary and to see some of the backup research, or if you wonder why I take the position I take, go to www.LyleBrennan.com.