Carson City School Board approves $63.5 million budget
May 17, 2017
The Carson City School District is still in strong financial shape, but a troubling trend of having a deficit over the last couple of years has raised concerns.
Carson City's School District Board unanimously, although a bit reluctantly, approved a $63.5 million budget for the 2017-2018 school year which projects a $1 million deficit for 2017-2018.
Even with the $1 million deficit, the district will still be left with $10.9 million of funds in reserve, which is 17 percent of the $63.5 million budget. The state recommends districts maintain at least an 8.3 percent reserve. The organization in which the school district is a part of, Government Finance Officers Association recommends districts maintain a 17 percent reserve.
The district projects to have $62.5 million in revenue in 2017-2018, but $63.5 million in expenses. That would lower the reserve from $11.9 million to $10.9 million. Andrew Feuling, district director of fiscal services, said he's hopeful spending in areas throughout the district could be as much as $200,000 less than what's budgeted, which could reduce the deficit.
A projected $330,000 of the deficit is for additional staff in kindergarten so every kindergarten class has one teacher and one teacher's aide. The district is adding 11 kindergarten teacher's aides to help in its effort to meet the state's requirement students learn to read proficiently by third grade.
The general fund accounts for 68 percent of revenue in the budget, but only 59 percent of expenses. But general fund revenue has to be transferred to other areas, with a big chunk going to special education, which is projected to have a $7 million deficit in 2017-2018.
Seventy-nine percent of the budget will go to salaries and benefits for all staff — teachers, administrators and classified employees — which is actually on par with what a district normally spends on staff, Feuling noted.
The board also unanimously approved a $15 million capital improvements plan for the 2017-2018 year to be funded through bonds and its capital projects "C" fund. Among the major projects to be done in 2017-2018 is the $625,000 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Lab at Carson Middle School and two major additions at Fremont and Mark Twain Elementary Schools that can house 8 to 10 classrooms.
The Fremont addition, expected to cost $4 million, was to be done in 2018-2019, but has been moved up to 2017-2018. The Mark Twain project will cost $3 million. Also included will be upgrades at Carson High, including bleachers at the CHS football field, the CHS softball field and restrooms and locker rooms.