The Carson City School Board reviewed its tentative budget for the 2019-20 school year Tuesday night working under constraints to reduce its deficit to $2.9 million while seeking to meet certain staffing deadlines in May.
Trustees provided direction on March 26 to cut the $5.7 million shortfall by approximately $3 million. The sum includes nearly $1.9 million in non-staffing costs and $1 million in staffing reductions.
Fiscal director Andrew Feuling has provided regular updates at the last several board meetings on where potential non-staffing cutbacks could be made in the general fund, including limiting the frequency of Chromebook replacements for students and teachers, eliminating certain technology enhancements or additions or cutting curriculum purchases. On Tuesday, Feuling said delaying the usual cycle of laptop replacements for students and teachers entering Carson and Pioneer high schools, each of which contain different populations and grow at different rates year to year, comes to a $200,000 revision in non-staffing costs.
There also would be other deferments in other SMART board and classroom technology replacements to help create additional savings, Feuling said.
Reductions in staffing and determining which positions the district will be accountable for are still to be determined.
Superintendent Richard Stokes updated the board on a recent meeting with new state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert, who assumed the position April 2 at the appointment of Gov. Steve Sisolak.
Stokes said the conversation he and other district superintendents had with Ebert went well, describing Ebert as “engaged” and she asked for help seeking a candidate for a deputy finance director and to be informed on some of the smaller districts’ current budget states.
“We told her specifically at that meeting Thursday that with this ‘correction’ that took away from us that $138 per student and added $1 million loss in revenue is really hurting us and eight other districts, and we are hoping there’s some discussion which may yet come about to correct that, which would take that $3.29 million and reduce it by a full $1 million,” Stokes told the board. “And I would be more comfortable in accepting that.”
He added teachers’ letters of intent must be delivered by May 1 or they have a right to assume they have guaranteed positions for the next school year.
“This is a really tough call,” he said. “The $2.9 million is a high number and one more year in that particular position is not tenable for our school district.”
Feuling also updated the board on the district’s special funds, which have different funding streams. The class size reduction fund is based on enrollment numbers for first through fifth grades. If costs aren’t fully covered, funds are transferred from the general fund to cover the rest of it. Figures also are not known yet for the Adult Education and Adult Ed-Correctional (Prison Ed), Special Education or Capital Projects and Bond funds, the latter of which presents an issue as construction costs continue to rise with inflation, Feuling said.
Carson City School District is working to meet important deadlines from the state. The tentative budget is due to the state Department of Taxation on Monday. The board then will hold a budget hearing at its regular meeting May 28 for approval, giving the public enough time to provide its feedback to the board. The final budget is due to the state June 8. After that, the state will provide the district a per-pupil amount.
In the meantime, the trustees meet next at their regular meeting April 23, which has been reserved as an awards night for district staff. If the trustees deem it necessary, they could plan an emergency workshop for April 25 for further discussion on the budget and to provide another opportunity to review additional updates from the NDE before May 1.