By Wyatt Goolsby
HOBBS, NM - The Hobbs School District is nearly finished tackling their budget, and it looks like cuts in salaries across the board. State budgets are forcing school districts everywhere to tighten their belts any way they can. On Thursday, NewsWest 9 traveled to Hobbs to learned how the Municipal Schools are getting by without any layoffs.
"The driving issue for the superintendent and the assistant superintendents is to make sure everyone keeps their job," T.J. Parks, Assistant Superintendent for Operations explained.
In June, Hobbs school officials will send a balanced budget to Santa Fe for the next school year. However, recent slashes in state funding means officials have been forced to cut and cut from every program.
"The major focus is we have reduced everyone's contract by three days," Parks said. "With that, you just take their daily rate, and so everyone has taken a three day daily rate reduction in their salary for next year. Every program cost has been reduced by eight percent from athletics to every program that we do. So, we have reduced everyone's budget by eight percent."
After the budget is made final in June, salary cuts will likely affect every employee. What has been surprising to residents, however, is how the district is tightening their belt while millions of dollars in construction will be ongoing for the next year.
"It makes it difficult," Parks said about how he is explaining the budget to taxpayers. "It's a perception issue that's very difficult for people to understand. 'Why are you building buildings while people are taking a cut in salary?' In February of 2008, we passed a 47 million dollar bond issue. We're still building projects with that money, you have two pools of money. [By state law] we cannot use bond dollars to pay for salaries."
NewsWest 9 did speak with one Hobbs teacher off camera Friday. She said she's not happy about her salary being cut, but said she's still very happy she still has a job. School officials said keeping jobs is key, and their optimistic as the national economy plus oil and gas pick up, the budget will grow down the line. In the meantime, they're giving credit to employees and teachers for doing the best with what they have.