WCSD superintendent talks about budget shortfall

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Washoe County School District Superintendent Traci Davis said Tuesday the school district is working to come up with a plan to find more than one million dollars to balance the budget. But she wouldn't reveal specific details.

"We have some ideas and we will share that with the board first before we go public," said Superintendent Davis.

She said the district is working with the Nevada Department of Education to figure out exactly how the budget shortfall happened. Davis said WCSD finalized its budget using a certain funding formula, but then the state used a different funding formula and came up with a different number. The difference between the two groups' calculations put the Washoe County School District $6.6 million short for each of the next two years.

When KOLO 8 News Now asked Davis if the Washoe County School District made a mistake in its calculations, Davis insisted it had not.

"I do not believe that we made a mistake based on our initial calculations based on what we knew at the time," said Davis. "What I do know is there is a working formula in which we utilized to balance a budget and a different formula that was used that we were unaware of or had not seen or been familiar with."

But a spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Education says the funding formula never changed.

"There was no mistake made on the part of the Department of Education," said Greg Bortolin, public information officer for the Nevada Department of Education. "The state of Nevada did not make any mistakes and it's interesting that every other school district in the state did not have any issues. Washoe County is the only school district that struggled to figure out what they needed for budget."

Now, with $5 million of next year's budget shortfall plugged thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 550 Monday night, the Washoe County School District only needs to find a way to make up the $1.6 million gap for the 2017-2018 school year. The legislation states the funding will go toward technology, buses, and school police vehicles for the Washoe County School District.

"I would hope that Washoe County would be celebrating what Governor Sandoval and our legislature did to keep them whole, so they didn't have to make further cuts," said Bortolin.

Funding from SB 550 can only be used toward the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The district will have to find a way to take care of the next year's $6.6 million gap some other way.

Superintendent Davis says WCSD will have to come up with its plan of how it will make up the $1.6 million to balance the 2017-2018 budget by the end of June.