Washoe School District approves budget & updates Davis case

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RENO, NV (KOLO) At its regular meeting June 25, 2019, the Washoe County School District (WCSD) Board of Trustees passed what it calls a "structurally balanced budget," for the first time since 2008. The district says the budget funds a three-percent raise for teachers and staff, increases funding for Special Education, covers the operating costs of three new schools, and has no increase in class sizes and no further cuts.

According to a district statement."This was accomplished thanks in large measure to actions by the state legislature and governor during the session that just concluded. The Board of Trustees has also made $61.9 million in ongoing budget cuts over the past three years."

“We are grateful to our lawmakers and to Gov. Steve Sisolak for their strong commitment to education in our state,” says WCSD Board President Katy Simon Holland. “As a District, we sought extensive public input on budget matters and held numerous public discussions at Board meetings throughout this process. We made cuts and the legislature and governor added more funding to allow us to give staff a raise, keep class sizes down, and pass a budget that requires no cuts in the following year. This speaks to our overall commitment as a District to using taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively. This is a good day for our 64,000 students and more than 8,000 staff members.”

“The submission of this amended and balanced final budget reflects the culmination of many tough decisions,” says Chief Financial Officer Mark Mathers. “Earlier this year, before the legislature concluded its work, the WCSD Board of Trustees approved a total of $11.1 million in reductions. Fortunately, Washoe County School District was able to collaborate closely with our state lawmakers and Gov. Sisolak, who provided much-needed resources for our students. They also gave us greater flexibility to use our funding more wisely for our community’s needs. This allowed us to balance our budget without making further cuts to important programs and services provided by the District to our students and their families.”

Budget details according to WCSD:

"The District’s operating budget funds a 3.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the biennium and salary step increases (“roll‐ups”) for employees. Balancing the budget was accomplished without increasing class sizes, and without cuts to school safety programs, reducing school librarian positions, sports programs, warehouse positions, or making additional reductions to custodial and groundskeeping positions. A 6.5 percent increase to Special Education funding, including a number of additional positons, is also provided in the budget.

"The additional funding provided by the legislature in the 2019 legislative session, which includes the redirection of the retail tax on marijuana sales from the State’s Rainy Day Fund to schools, helped to cover the District’s remaining $7.9 million deficit, which was shown in the final budget presented to the Board of Trustees in May.

"Because the amended budget is balanced and ongoing revenues are expected to cover ongoing expenses, the District will not have to pull from General Fund reserves to cover any shortfall in the budget.

"State law allows local agencies to file an amended budget within 30 days after adjournment of the legislature to account for legislative changes that have a fiscal impact. With the additional funding from the State, the Fiscal Year 2019-20 amended budget, which was approved today, is structurally balanced with no deficit.

Traci Davis update, not addressed at meetinig:

In a daily update from the Washoe County School District about Superintendent Traci Davis, who is on a leave of absence, the district says there is evidence that improper information was shared by a law firm regarding the Davis case.

The statement June 25, 2019, says, "Today, we also received additional information from another party that Ms. Davis’s lawyer, William Peterson, and his firm represented three different employees adverse to Davis in this workplace investigation. This ex-client believes, as do we, that the law firm of Snell & Wilmer used that client’s information to benefit Traci Davis and to spread misleading information about this situation. In fact, this ex-client's supposition is that this firm leaked critical information about the investigation and the case about Traci Davis. There should have been no sharing of confidential information by the firm of Snell & Wilmer, as it appears has occurred."

The district also says Davis said publicly that she did not tell WCSD that she was requesting a leave of absence for personal reasons, after being served with the notice of a meeting to discuss the issue involving her and her future at the district June 13. The district says, "No one at the District demanded that she leave, nor did the District state a time frame for her to be on leave. In fact, it was expected that the issues would conclude by June 30, 2019. In addition, there is written notice from her counsel of that request for a leave of absence, which we honored when she requested it."

The WCSD Board of Trustees will consider naming Acting Superintendent Kristen McNeill interim superintendent at the July 1 special meeting to discuss Davis's future with the district. The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. at district headquarters and will be live streamed here.

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