Carson City school board OKs 2019-20 district budget

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The Carson City School Board approved its final budget for the 2019-20 school year Tuesday that ultimately leaves the school district with a total shortfall of $3.7 million, including a $1 million contingency.

The district now has until June 8 to formally submit its budget to the state and it will be given an allotted period of time to amend it as needed as the legislative session concludes. For now, the ending balance for CCSD remains at approximately $12 million and with $9 million for the 2020 school year.

The administration has completed some maneuvering in the past three months to close the gap on what was projected to be a $5.7 million deficit earlier this year, finding cost savings in technology replacements and staff reductions.

The district, along with the other 16 in the state, kept its eye on what was to come from the Nevada Legislature Saturday as officials worked on the Distributive School Account to provide state and local sources of funding for schools. Projections were made statewide on student growth and where funding cuts could be made, which spreads money across the districts, Feuling said, but they also recognized inflationary costs. This will impact Carson City’s per pupil amount, which currently stands at $7,060 for 2019-20, down from $7,198 from the current year.

Also at play from Saturday’s work at the Legislature was a proposal to change the model for funding K-12 through Senate Bill 543, the Pupil-Centered Funding Plan. SB543 effectively renders the 1967 Nevada Plan and its DSA model obsolete. SB543 would create a new base funding amount for districts, but the amount hasn’t yet been determined. A new commission would oversee the new formula and make recommendations for per-pupil funding amounts.

The impact on Carson City from Saturday’s discussion is still being determined, but overall, the district still took a sharp look at its key staffing and non-staffing costs, including its adult education, prison education, special education and technology services including Chromebook replacement. Some nutrition rates will increase next year to keep up with inflation.

Even as trustees approved the budget Tuesday, it remains fluid with decisions on capital projects still to be made, Feuling said. Concerns remain on building a new school since only a few years ago, projections were made about population growth as a result of a boom in jobs from the Tesla gigafactory. The area has grown, but not enough to warrant a new site immediately, Feuling said.

“It’s a living document,” he said. “We’re not ready to pull the trigger on building a new school tomorrow, so we don’t want you to feel like you’re pulling your support on this.”

For the first time in 15 years, according to Feuling, the district has had to spend out of its emergency reserve to help reduce its deficit amount.

With passage of the final budget, the district must now submit its documentation to the state Department of Taxation by June 8, and this being a legislative year, the district is allowed to submit an amended budget by July. By Dec. 31, fall enrollments and prior year audits will be due for the amended final budget.

After the meeting and passage of the budget, board president Stacie Wilke, a member for 12 years, said she’s never seen a budget process like the board has experienced this year, calling it a “volatile six months.”

She said it was difficult having to eliminate the instructional specialist positions and working without Race to the Top funds. Carson City also has among the lowest administrative costs in the state, so it was even more difficult to determine where to find cuts.

“Our hope is now by June 1 we’ll know exactly what we’re dealing with and can look at where we can cut, if we have to cut, and see what’s going to happen in Carson,” she said. “There’s a lot of building going on, too. We don’t know if we’re going to have a lot of growth. It’s another one of those ‘wait and see.’”


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