Tentative school budget barely balances

Based on the governor's proposed tax increases, the Carson City School District looks like it has a balanced budget.

"There's some risk involved in it if the Legislature doesn't approve the governor's plan," said Bob Anderson, the district's finance manager. "If that happens, we'll have to make some modifications, but it's too early to tell."

Based on the formula used in the past to determine the amount of money each district is given for each student enrolled, Anderson estimates Carson City should receive about $4,855 next year per pupil.

"I feel confident that will be close to the number," he said. "I think there will be some modifications, but we'll be pretty close to that."

Tentative budgets must be submitted by April 15, well before the legislative session ends, leaving officials to make their best guess. The total budget is expected to be about $51.8 million.

Anderson presented the first draft to trustees during Tuesday's school board meeting.

Despite a warning from the State Department of Education to prepare for the worst, Anderson said he is planning for what he thinks will happen, not the worst-case scenario.

In a memo to Nevada's 17 school districts, Superintendent Jack McLaughlin said the money the state guarantees public education would be reduced $126 million a year if the 2003 Legislature fails to enact tax increases needed to erase the $704 million deficit Gov. Kenny Guinn says state government faces over the next two years.

According to the chart McLaughlin provided, the cuts would cost Carson City schools $3.3 million a year.

But Anderson said the district will consider cuts only if necessary.

"We have internally looked at some places we could cut expenditures," he said. "But we're not going to do that until we get the final word. We don't feel it's necessary to go through the exercise to put cuts in place when we're optimistic the distributive school account will be adequate.

"We don't want to cause a lot of concern if it's not warranted."

If cuts do have to be made, Anderson said no programs will be lost and hopefully, no jobs.


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