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School District’s Budget Deficit Jumps to $18 Million (Subscriber Content)

By Bob Conrad
Published: Last Updated on
Washoe County School Board Trustees, 2019. Image: Ty O'Neil.
Washoe County School Board Trustees, 2019. Left to right, standing: Dr. Angie Taylor, Andrew Caudill, Jacqueline Calvert, Scott Kelley and Ellen Minetto. Seated: Katy Simon Holland and Malena Raymond. Image: Ty O’Neil.

The Washoe County School District last week announced that its projected budget deficit has jumped to $17.8 million. The more-than-doubling of the budget hole is due, according to WCSD, to the state’s 3% cost-of-living-allowance for employees.

The deficit was previously projected at $7.5 million, an amount the district mostly blamed on the state and its funding model.

The district announced in a news release that it has cut $38.7 million from its ’17-’18 budget and $12 million from this fiscal year’s budget “with the majority of the reductions coming from district administrative functions.”

The school board of trustees approved the district’s tentative budget last week. Cuts are anticipated to administrative positions, technology, reduced staffing at athletic events, and custodial services.

“Another $4 million in savings was achieved by recognizing salary savings in the budget through a ‘salary contra’— the acknowledgement that at any given time, there are a number of positions that are unfilled,” said district spokesperson Victoria Campbell.

Administrative positions proposed to go unfilled are financial and academic officer positions, two chief of staff positions, and cuts to student services, communications, and transportation.

“WCSD calculated the budget based upon the best information available to us earlier this year,” Campbell added. “As we received more details from the state regarding our funding going forward, we adjusted our budget accordingly, which accounts for the recent increase in the structural deficit.”

None of the cuts are final. The district is awaiting more information from the state about funding, and the final budget will be voted on by the board on May 28.

Other WCSD News

New School Named

Trustees also voted last week to name its new middle school after a former educator and journalist, Marce Herz.

“Marce Herz was a true pioneer who championed involvement in sports for all young people,” said Board President Katy Simon Holland. “We are proud to name our newest school as a tribute to her enduring contributions to the children of Washoe County. The Sky Tavern Jr. Ski Program helped make skiing and snowboarding accessible to many thousands of our students from all over the District at a time when diversity in the sport was incredibly rare.

“She was dedicated to promoting equity and sportsmanship among our students, and we congratulate her family for this well-deserved honor.”

Board Meeting Times Changed

The board also decided to change its meeting times from 2 pm to 4 pm. The board meets the second and fourth Tuesdays every month. The new start times begin July 1.

Smithridge Named STEM School

Governer Steve Sisolak announced last week that Smithridge Elementary has been named a STEM school.

“With more and more innovative, high-tech companies doing business in Nevada, STEM education is more important than ever,” Sisolak said. “These ten schools embody the characteristics and practices of excellent STEM education that our students need to be prepared for careers and for life and I am proud to welcome them as the newest Governor’s STEM Schools.”

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