Budget Crunch: Las Cruces Public Schools forced to cut additional $3.5 million

Gov. Martinez slashes school district...

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - In order to fix New Mexico's budget crunch, Governor Susana Martinez is slashing $46 million from local school district reserves. The governor had previously called those reserves "slush funds."

Now, schools in Las Cruces say they're paying the price.

Last week, the Las Cruces Public School District Superintendent Dr. Gregory Ewing told ABC-7 they were anticipating big cuts this legislative session. 

District officials say that's now a reality. The district says it's being forced to cut $3.5 million dollars from its $7 million reserve fund. 

The district says they don't want children inside the classroom to pay the price. But to make up the cost, they're looking at not filling vacancies at their administrative building. They're also considering not filling some vacant teaching positions, but say that's a last resort.

The district's chief financial officer Crystal Valdez says these cuts are making the district very nervous. She added, it could mean more crowded classrooms.

"We can turn off the lights and cut supplies and a lot of things that don't have much affect, but because such a large amount of our operational fund is in salary and benefits we will need to look at allocation of student to teacher ratio," Valdez said.

The cuts will affect this current school year. Lawmakers are now deciding on next year's budget.

In response to signing senate bill 114, which cut those reserve funds, the Governor Martinez said that while it isn't perfect, she is pleased the bill protects classrooms and doesn't make families foot the bill.

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