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School budget gains final approval

Teri Vance
tvance@nevadaappeal.com

Despite a potential increase in revenue from the state, the Carson City School Board voted, after lengthy discussion, to submit the tentative budget as its final document, understanding changes could still be made after the close of the Legislature.

“I’d like to see us transmit the current budget we now have, knowing full well there will be some changes,” said trustee Steve Reynolds.

School district officials built the tentative budget based on projections of receiving $6,231 per pupil. Projections released Friday are at $6,637 per student enrolled, which would result in $2.25 million in additional revenue.

“We are cautioned that number is not final,” said Superintendent Richard Stokes. “It could still change up or down. We still want to be conservative in how we go forward.”

Stokes made the announcement at Wednesday’s budget hearing, the final meeting on the budget before it receives final approval at the May 28 school board meeting.

While the school district’s final budget is due to the State Department of Taxation on June 8, revenue is determined by the Legislature, which meets every two years, and is expected to conclude June 3.

“We have the ability to modify our budget 30 days after the end of the session,” Stokes said. “We could still make some changes. None of these dates line up real well.”

Trustee Ron Swirczek made a motion, calling for district officials to use the proposed excess to restore at least three elementary school counselors, which were eliminated as part of the budget cuts. Instead, vice principals were added to each site.

“To me, this is such an important role,” he said. “The primary thing should be kids, that we’re giving them a chance to excel. Some of these kids are really in need. They deserve that same opportunity.”

Only trustee Joe Cacioppo supported the motion, with Reynolds, Stacie Wilke and Laurel Crossman voting against it. President Lynnette Conrad was absent.

Instead, the board approved the $59.87 million budget outlined in the tentative draft. Swirczek cast the lone dissenting vote.

The budget draws $2.5 million from district reserves while cutting $1.7 million from district expenses, which include an increase in classroom sizes and a decrease in teachers and other staff, including all elementary school counselors.

“Our revenues and expenditures are still out of balance,” warned Tony Turley, finance director for the school district. “Next year, we are not going to have the ending-fund balance to support our revenues.”

While the board did not vote to make any changes to the budget, Turley presented some options if revenues exceed expectations. The recommendations included a restoral of pay increases for teachers and staff, restoring the district English-as-a-second language coordinator, WiFi hardware upgrades, restoral of custodial staff, keeping district cell phones, increasing school resource officers and eliminating the pay-to-play initiative.