The Carson City School District may spend $1.2 million more in the 2005-'06 fiscal year than it is taking in.
But up to 50 percent of that deficit spending could be reduced by decisions the Legislature will make in the upcoming days.
That is according to Bob Anderson, the district's finance director, who recommended to the board that before directing the school district to balance the budget by cutting expenditures, it should wait to see what happens in the Legislature.
"I don't feel it would be prudent to make a lot of expenditure cuts right now," Anderson said. "... We can always do an amended budget after the Legislature goes home."
Items that could positively affect the district's deficit budget are hold-harmless spending, teacher-requirement credits, salary increases, textbook inflation and the property tax cap.
A final budget is due to the Department of Taxation June 8, but amended budgets can be filed after that.
The school board met with district officials Wednesday evening to discuss the tentative budget. At the regularly scheduled school board meeting Tuesday, the board will make a final vote on the budget.
When pushed by board member John McKenna to provide a possible deficit-reduction estimate by the Legislature, Anderson hesitated.
"Some portion of it will be made up," he said. "I'm not sure how much. Maybe half of it."
According to the tentative budget, the general fund begins July 1 with $2.9 million and ends June 30, 2006 with $1.7 million.
"I think we're going to have some modification about education in this town," McKenna said. "... We're spending two-fifths of our savings this year. We'll probably have to spend the other three-fifths next year, We have $1.5 million set away for 2007, but that leaves us with nothing in 2008."
The district has set $1.5 million aside for the 2007 school year when hold-harmless funding will stop. That means the district will receive money based on the actual number of students enrolled in the district, instead of the prior year's enrollment.
This year's budget assumes the state will give the district funding based on last year's enrollment - 8,535 students, rather than 8,461 students.
If the Legislature decides to base the per-pupil support of $5,215 per student on 2005 ending numbers, that could mean the district goes $400,000 further in the hole.
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.