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WCSD trustees provide direction on budget, aim to finalize by end of month

Two men sit a table in front of microphones and the one on the right speaks and gestures with his hand.
WCSD Board Meetings via YouTube
Mathers and district budget director Jeff Bozzo present to the trustees on the district's budget on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 in Reno, Nev.

At a regular meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees heard an updated budget presentation from district staff.

In the aftermath of a contentious and historic state legislative session, the WCSD trustees heard that the district will receive a boost of $381 per student for the upcoming school year. District Chief Financial Officer Mark Mathers told the board that, statewide, he doubts they’ll see such a funding boost ever again.

The state’s K-12 funding bill also revised how the money flows to each district and specific learners.

“The funding bill made a number of changes, virtually all of which went the way we would want them to go,” Mathers said.

He specifically mentioned that no district would lose money due to possible adjusted costs of education, calling it a win.

The only negative change for the district was a small loss in funding allocated for English language learners.

The district is looking at a $76.7 million surplus for the upcoming year. Trustees will vote on the entire final budget in two weeks.

The trustees did finalize some spending, though. For example, the trustees directed district staff to cut down on the size of walk zones for elementary and middle schools by hiring 13 additional bus drivers for implementation in January 2024. The motion passed 5-2 with Trustees Diane Nicolet and Adam Mayberry voting no, saying they wanted to prioritize staffing changes inside of schools.

The trustees also voted to increase staffing to boost school safety in the district’s middle schools. They voted to place campus supervisors at all 17 middle schools and unanimously approved eight new police positions for those campuses.

And after receiving comments from multiple principals, the district will give more support to stand-alone principals in elementary schools. Those principals do not have a second administrator to help run the school.

“It is vital to a school’s ability to meet the needs of students to have additional allocations in a leadership role where we can maintain safe and productive learning environments,” said Colbee Riordan, vice president of the district’s principals’ union and principal at Marvin Moss Elementary in Sparks. “The job of a site administrator contains many roles and duties day to day and minute to minute.”

Trustees voted to provide a flex allocation to all 24 elementary schools that do not have a second school administrator for the upcoming 2023-24 school year.

Jose Davila IV is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Jose Davila IV reports on K-12 education with a focus on Latino students and families in Northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierra. He is also a first-year Report for America corps member. Es bilingüe, su familia es de Puerto Rico, y ama los tostones de su padre más que nada.
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