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Monday, May 12, 2014 - 8:25pm
El Paso (KDBC) — The Las Cruces Public School District unveiled it's 2014-2015 budget--$185 million.
For the first time in a few years, LCPS's budget got a sizeable boost from the state of New Mexico--nearly 20 percent.
Now district officials are sharing exactly where the windfall is going.
"It's exciting to see money going into our salaries because it's well deserved by every school employee," said Tommy Esparza, a teacher for the district for more than 20 years.
In Monday's town hall meeting, Las Cruces school budget revealed they would use more than 90 percent of the their $185 million budget on staff.
"Ninety-two percent of that amount is in people, you know salaries and fringe benefits." said Jo Galvan, Director of Communications for LCPS. "And the other 8 percent goes to running the entire school system. So it's a tight budget but we are a big employer and that's why we need people to understand how we are spending it."
The State Legislature decided in their last session that all New Mexico school districts must give their teachers at least a 3 percent raise average.
But LCPS officials said they are still in the negotiating phase and their staff could get a little more.
"It could go above or it could just be the average amount which would mean someone would get less than three percent," said Galvan. "But I think the bottom line though is that teachers know they will be getting something additional in their pockets next school year and they really deserve it."
Apart from the pay raise, the district is also asking the state board of education to approve adding 37 new teachers.
"There are 13 elementary teachers, we have 17 middle school teachers and 7 positions in reserves for when those kids show up if we need to insert a teacher we can do so," said Terry Dean, Associate superintendent for finance and technology. "Those are all additions to the staff that are directly going to affect students."
Esparza said this change is long over due.
"It's exciting that we are adding new positions because for a few years it was difficult but our superintendent and our school board are trying to get us back to where we can have great numbers for every classroom."
One parent said he is happy about the new staff, and hopes the additions mean smaller class sizes.
"It matters how they are going to be allocated and how big the classes are going to be," said Glenn Landers, a concerned parent. "I'd like to see classes kept as low as possible.
For those who were unable to make it out to the town hall meeting, the superintendent's office will continue to welcome questions from the public via email at firstname.lastname@example.org