Carson schools' tentative budget narrows deficit further

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The Carson City School District is reducing its deficit and expects few changes to its general fund for its 2024-25 budget, Chief Financial Officer Spencer Winward told school board members Tuesday.

Major considerations for the district’s tentative budget, which is due to the Nevada Department of Taxation on Monday, are to look ahead as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) spending comes to an end Sept. 30. The administration also will watch its nutrition fund and determine best options for students after it was announced last month that school lunches across the state would no longer be free. CCSD will keep working with food services management company Chartwells, but Winward said he doesn’t expect major changes to the general fund as a result of nutrition expenses.

“We’re looking at what’s going to make the most sense for our students and the best economic outlook,” Winward said.

The most recent update after budget assumption discussions in recent meetings indicated CCSD showed a total general fund revenue of $80.3 million. Current staffing and operating costs brought general fund expenditures to $81 million for a projected deficit of $740,000, less than the last anticipated figure of $950,000 reported last month. Winward said no significant changes are expected between now and the final budget.

Winward said there also would be little to no change for special education and Pupil-Centered Funding Plan funds. Some English Learner fund expenses remain in the general fund and a small transfer to its EL fund is possible, Winward said.

Carson City School District, now out of hold harmless status, has been projecting declines in its average daily enrollment count, which stands at 6,935.2, dropping from 6,995.5 in 2024.

Trustee Molly Walt asked about the outlook for staffing and whether there will be attrition. Superintendent Andrew Feuling, answering questions with Winward, said he was aware of at least one position due for retirement this year the district will not be replacing. Four certified positions will become vacant due to the enrollment decline but will be attempted to be filled, he said.

The district offered an incentive program for full-time personnel who provided notification of their resignation or retirement in January with the board’s approval, and the strategy has helped with savings and planning for turnover, Feuling said.

He also addressed concerns on the enrollment drop’s impact over time to projections.

“It’s never going to be a perfect year, but we adjust year to year,” he said. “Things happen. Changes always happen.”

Trustee Richard Varner, who has been outspoken on operating on a deficit, said he appreciated a conservative approach in managing Carson City’s fiscal needs.

“I think it’s better to build that and then not have the money available,” Varner said. “I think you’ve done a good job.”

Trustee Mike Walker noted the tentative budget is not the actual budget but an expectation and part of the planning process.

“A reality of school budgets is we have to look in our crystal ball and make our best guess and that’s why we have several meetings throughout the year to make those adjustments,” Walker said. “I don’t want people to feel all of a sudden, you know, that we’re not going to be able to pay our employees. It’s making our best guess right now and then as fast as we can we’ll get a clearer picture.”

By statute, public hearings for tentative budgets must be held between May 20 and 31 each year. The district has scheduled its hearing during its second board meeting of the month on May 28. The final budget is to be adopted and filed with the Department of Taxation and the county clerk by June 10.


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