The Carson City School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved its annual budgeted pay for performance staff payment for the 2021-22 school year with a fiscal impact not to exceed $1 million.
The decision came days before the end of the fiscal year with fiscal services director Andrew Feuling announcing there are still a number of job vacancies that continue to present challenges but created cost savings without filling the positions.
“There’s an opportunity to use (the funds) and it’s important to think of it as one-time money,” he told the board Tuesday. “It’s due to vacancies I hope we would be able to fill next year.”
On Tuesday, Feuling said he received a secondary and final guidance about a month this year from the Nevada Department of Education. The Pupil Centered Funding Plan, which changed how the state directs the flow of money to schools, shifted its ending fund balance sweep provisions. Feuling said due to the latest information from the NDE, the savings could be swept into the stabilization fund and provided an opportunity for the district to pay eligible employees $1,000 each.
Trustee Mike Walker asked about the timeline for making the exact determination on the sweep.
“We’re several days away from the end of the year and they haven’t determined whether to sweep that (money) or not?” Walker asked. “So when are they going to make that determination?”
Feuling said he had reached out to the NDE by e-mail expressing “disagreement” with the secondary guidance and said he had not received a response as of Tuesday.
“I know that there’s frustration from other districts within the state with how this has come out,” he said, explaining he thought more discussions should take place about the conflicting language and the outcomes for particular fund balances for English learners, the Gifted and Talented program, nutrition services and other educational needs.
In November 2021, the board adjusted its budgeted pay for performance staff payment from $100 to $500 for eligible employees for the 2021-22 year, with the fiscal impact not to exceed $500,000. The move continues to indicate long-lasting hardships the district has experienced from COVID-19.
Before the board approved the motion, Brian Wallace, a computer science teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School and president of the Ormsby County Education Association, one of the local labor unions representing staff members in the district, said continuing the support making the payments to staff members in the long run sets a dangerous precedent.
“The state now has put you in a position that you’re not going to be able to give pay raises. The long-term effects of that are horrible – just the impact on PERS (Public Employees’ Retirement System) alone for members, just the impact on payroll growth for PERS, especially in these market conditions, let alone being able to recruit for any positions within the district,” Wallace said.
He said he feared the state would sweep the accounts only to turn around and have the Carson City School District apply for its own money through grant funding that it likely couldn’t provide to employees.
“So it’s going to be imperative as we move forward as a community – and this is reaching out to all our parents, community groups – that this aspect of the funding mechanism needs to change. It’s going to become a system of destabilization, not stabilization,” he said.
The board approved the vote 6-0, with Trustee Joe Cacioppo absent.