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Carson school officials responsible stewards

Nevada Appeal Editorial Board

Some very hard decisions are going to have to be made once the budget ax falls on Nevada’s schools. Specifics won’t be known for a few months, but it’s clear that Carson City School District will face major cuts, possibly up to 34 percent.

In a three-day series Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, education reporter Teri Vance looked at some of the ways the Carson district has been cutting costs over the past several years. Some of those efforts have been relatively painless, such as reducing electricity usage by holding school dances and other extracurricular events during the day rather than at night, when rates are higher. Others, such as leaving open positions unfilled, surely had a more profound impact, as fewer employees work to maintain the same level of education and services for students.

One of the more ingenious ” and yet simple ” ideas was to incorporate skylights in the classrooms at Bordewich-Bray Elementary and Carson Middle schools. Harnessing natural, and free, light helped cut lighting costs by 80 percent.

The school district’s thrifty budget management has left it with an ending fund balance of more than $11 million this year, which will go a long way to buffering the coming reductions. But Superintendent Richard Stokes doesn’t want to completely draw down that fund to offset the cuts. Other belt-tightening efforts may include limiting field trips and putting off replacing textbooks another year, or longer. But other Nevada districts, with less of a safety net, are looking at even more drastic measures, such as eliminating sports and gifted and talented programs.

Carson City School District, under Superintendent Stokes and retiring director of operations Mike Mitchell, is to be commended for its foresight in cutting spending when it became apparent that the district’s enrollment was declining.

And while that decline is indicative of an aging population that will in time strain other city resources, in the short term, it’s good that the district is not dealing with overflowing classrooms as well as looming budget cuts.