Carson City School Superintendent Andrew Feuling had a hard time grasping the concept Tuesday night that since he’s been with the district as its former fiscal services director, there might be surplus revenue to spend next year.
“It appears if this works, it’s a good problem to have,” he said during the school board meeting.
However, projections at this point in the process are early and there remains some “fine-tuning” to do, Feuling said, as the planning process begins for the fiscal year.
CCSD’s average daily enrollment estimate is expected to drop by about 75 students from 7,286.5 to 7,211.5. State funding per pupil goes from $7,753 to $9,233 per pupil, increasing Carson City’s adjusted base funding from $56.4 million to $66.5 million. The state budget shows an overall increase in special education funding by about 1.9%.
While 2023’s figures saw $10.4 million in Pupil Centered Funding Plan dollars and $810,000 in local, federal and other funds, this resulted in approximately $67.7 million in total general funds for FY23 up to $76.6 million for FY24. This results in an overall increase of about $8.9 million in its general fund revenues for the 2023-24 school year, Chief Financial Officer Spencer Winward said Tuesday.
The PCFP’s hold harmless provision stays in effect for about three to six more years. With Gov. Joe Lombardo’s proposed budget to add $2 billion in new funding, Feuling said the threshold has been so “significantly exceeded” for school districts such as Eureka, Storey and Carson City that have been in hold harmless status to date, based on projections, he believed it’s reasonable to think they’ll be out after the close of the legislative session.
Weighted funding categories for English learners, Gifted and Talented Education, at-risk students, English as a Second Language show an increase, while auxiliary funding for transportation and nutrition have stable totals although with a slight decrease, Winward said. Nutrition services become self-sufficient as the federal government continues to provide universal meals for students.
However, even with the long-awaited bolster in funds, CCSD administrators say there remains still a number of funding needs and priorities to consider. The enrollment decrease should remain top of mind and might result in a fiscal cliff. Some might say the extra dollars should go to employee compensation or help fill staff vacancies, Winward said, and there are new programs and other funding accountability items for which CCSD might not be aware of at this time that the money ultimately might be applied to that legislators will say must become a priority, he said. Other priorities could include the district’s strategic plan requirements or operating cost increases and inflation. Utility fee increases, such as natural gas or electricity, are expected to go up, and Winward and Feuling said officials want to be prepared in the coming months for higher bills.
The school district’s traditional budgeting process generally falls in line with years past. It has received its preliminary revenue projections from the Nevada Department from Taxation as of Feb. 15 and will receive final numbers on March 25. During the school board’s March 28 or April 11 meeting, the FY24 tentative budget will be presented for discussion and input only and will be due to the Department of Taxation by April 15. On May 23, the school board will hold its budget hearing for approval, and on June 8, the original FY23 final budget will be due to the state.
“I’m glad we’re better where we are now than where we were last year,” Trustee Mike Walker said after Winward’s presentation.
Trustee Richard Varner cautioned the community the district should remain conservative with its funds.
“We have a lot of needs that need to be met with that $8.9 million, raises, I’d like to point out — several millions in just health care costs, PERS, etc. — so there may not be as much money as people may believe we have to work with just by covering the expenses,” he said.
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