Teachers and administrators in Storey County are struggling to use their creativity to balance the school district's budget crisis for the 2000-2001 school year.
"It's nice to see what I knew would happen," said Trustee Tyler Clarke at the board meeting Tuesday night. "Everybody is pulling up their boot straps and getting together to help each other out."
The school board approved the final budget, which cut $563,728 to remedy a $448,000 deficit which resulted after the Pinon Pines Power Plant finished two years ahead of schedule.
"It'll work," said interim Superintendent Bob Scott of the budget. "But it hasn't been a very positive experience for anybody."
The largest budget cut was the $90,000 lunch program followed by the $76,000 high school principal position.
The music program in Virginia City was cut, saving $35,000 and at Hillside Elementary in Lockwood, saving $26,000.
George Barnes, principal of Gallagher Elementary in Virginia City, told the board he is working to find an alternative means of providing a lunch program.
"We are determined that the students are not going to go hungry," he said. "It looks as if we will be able to provide them a prepared lunch."
He said he talked to food service personnel from Carson-Tahoe Hospital about providing a self-supporting food program at the school.
He said the menu would serve the same food weekly. A taste test is planned for July 10 with the summer school students.
The principal's position would be filled by a teacher working part-time as an administrator with the new superintendent, Henry Kilmer, fulfilling the remainder of the duties. The school will not lose accredidation.
The music program will not completely die, either.
Music, along with other electives such as art, will be taught in the regular classroom.
Squeek LaVake, a local musician and professional pianist will also teach music to each elementary grade level for one hour a week.
"I think it is an excellent alternative," said Board President Carol McCracken. "Squeaky is a very well-rounded musician and we are lucky to have her. It will help soften the blow of losing the music program."
The district's shortfall will also be cushioned by a $360,000 loan from Tahoe Reno Industrial located near Lockwood.
"They have the biggest industrial park in the nation," said Storey County Commissioner Greg Hess. "They did it out of good faith."
He said the loan will be allotted in quarterly installments with $120,000 by July to repair the roof at the middle school and to finish two classrooms under construction at the high school.
"They knew the school was hurting for some money," Hess said. " I don't think there's ever been a better gesture extended to a small county like this. As soon as we got in trouble, they were the first to offer help."
Scott said the budget may be amended as deemed necessary and could be augmented.
He said the budget allowed for a zero ending-fund balance and contingency fund.
He said the board would have to give a detailed explanation to the department of taxation and the state board of education.
"We are prepared to do that," he said. "It's very simple. It's a matter of mathematics."
However, he said that this year's ending-fund balance would probably have about $150,000 more than had been estimated. He suggested that the excess be applied to next year's ending-fund balance and contingency fund.
Other major cuts included:
- Four teachers for $119,200
- Part-time counselor for $18,500
- Janitor for $26,000
- Bus route for $24,000
- Artist in Residence program for $7,000