LCPS board meeting lasts until 12:27 am, split vote passes budget

LAS CRUCES – A heated school board meeting lasted six-and-a-half hours — until 12:27 am — into the early hours of Wednesday. It resulted in a split vote which passed the proposed budget with no changes.

After a long list of recognitions and performances, which took up nearly the first two hours of the meeting, there was still a long list of items to address, including the proposed operating budget, which has caught the interest of community members.

Before the meeting began, members of the National Education Association of Las Cruces and the Classified School Employees Council of Las Cruces gathered outside of the Teaching and Learning Center, waving pickets and chanting for respect.

Las Cruces Public School staff and community members gather outside of the Teaching and Learning Center run by the National Education Association of Las Cruces to voice their concerns with LCPS Board of Education on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Their concerns included classroom size, pay equity and budget practices.

“Budgets are moral documents,” said NEA-LC President Denise Sheehan to the 40 or so LCPS staff members gathered outside before the board meeting. “Our budget is going to show the hard work of our board and our superintendent. They remind our students and our teachers that we’re headed in the right direction. So please, stand with us, please request — if you’re giving public comment — please ask that they do table it and that they actually do engage stakeholders.”

Public and union comments

Staff unions and community members’ problems do not lie solely with the budget, but with the allowance for community input, which they did not think was sufficient this year.

Las Cruces Public School staff and community members gather outside of the Teaching and Learning Center run by the National Education Association of Las Cruces to voice their concerns with LCPS Board of Education on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Their concerns included classroom size, pay equity and budget practices.

The survey’s deadline was either Friday, May 6, according to the NEA’s report, or Sunday, May 8, according to a district presentation. The final budget was released on Tuesday, May 10. A budget town hall meeting was held Thursday, May 12. The board voted to approve the budget on Tuesday, May 17.

Parent Michelle Granger, who has spoken at board meetings in the past, stepped up during public comment as a representative of Las Cruces Education Advocacy and Awareness.

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