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WCSD trustees finalize new $1.5 billion budget

 Nine people sit on a dais facing the camera and two other people sitting at a desk.
WCSD Board Meetings Via YouTube
The trustees ask district staff questions about the proposed budget on Tuesday, June 27, 2023 in Reno, Nev.

The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees finalized the district’s budget for the next school year at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Now that the state legislative session has wrapped up, Washoe County School District trustees could approve the budget with all pertinent information available from the state. Those state-level changes benefited the district.

The district will see a 26.3 percent increase in per-pupil funding from the state. That increase allowed the trustees to add staff positions across the district. The trustees specifically flagged investments in safety at all school levels.

“We made some tough decisions based on, I would say, a collective hard work in visiting schools, departments, listening to our constituents, our families, our students,” trustee Diane Nicolet said. “And certainly safety was a big factor.”

Those decisions resulted in new bus driver positions to reduce the size of district walk zones. To address safety concerns, trustees budgeted for 10 new police and 17 campus supervisor positions to provide more support to middle schools.

The budget also established additional school administrator positions including assistant principals at small elementary schools that have stand-alone principals. Those positions will be filled over the next two years.

Board president Beth Smith said she was proud of what the board had accomplished.

“Someone had recently said something that stayed with me, I think it was one of our public speakers. They said, ‘Show me your budget and I’ll show you your priorities.’ And I’m proud of this,” Smith said. “I can tell you with a straight face, hand to heart, that this budget reflects our priorities.”

District staff also urged the contract extension of a staffing specialist in the nutrition services department to continue recruiting for empty positions there.

Those additions and increases in non-discretionary funding like staff health insurance plans, leave the district with a $61 million unallocated surplus. Depending on discussions about new funding for at-risk students and English language learners, the implementation of the strategic plan, and bargaining talks with the district’s unions, that surplus could change at a later date. Any additional spending would go before the board of trustees.

Overall, the district is set to spend over $1.5 billion next year, making it the largest public entity in Northern Nevada.

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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