Douglas school enrollment continues decline

School enrollment declined steadily over the last 20 years. Figures for 2006 and 2007 were not available.

School enrollment declined steadily over the last 20 years. Figures for 2006 and 2007 were not available.

Student enrollment in Douglas County is projected to drop below 5,000 students next year for the first time since the late 1980s.

Enrollment has been declining in the district since 2005. The budget predicts 4,950 students next year.

Around 250 fewer students are expected to enroll in Douglas County School District next year, requiring $1.6 million in salary reductions, according to the tentative budget. The school board is expected to adopt the revised final budget for the 2024-25 year on Tuesday.

Trustees reviewed the tentative budget during the April 9 meeting where the district’s Director of Business Services Susan Estes highlighted key adjustments to the budget, estimated revenues, and projected expenditures for the 2024-25 school year.

“We spent a great deal of time getting to this budget because of certain variables we know are going to happen, such as enrollment,” said Estes. “We had to do a great deal of cutting into next year’s budget and we are hoping that we have a little of an underspin, so that we can actually go into next year with a little more positive.”

Estes pointed out some major cuts including salaries and enrollment.

“After we added the 4 percent salary (increase) that the board approved, we had to cut the $1.6 million from the salaries and that was in addition to the 4 percent we put in there, so there was a huge cut in the actual personnel piece of this whole budget,” said Estes.

She said one of the reasons for the cuts was due to the drop in enrollment.

“Two-hundred and fifty less students next year really is the reason for it,” said Estes. “The huge reduction is salaries because even adding 4 percent and changing the insurance, we still had to find about $4.4 million in the budget.”

Estes said the PCFP funding started in July 2021 and even though there were still declines in enrollment from 2020-23 the hold harmless protected the district from funding drops, but by 2023 the hold harmless were gone.

“So, that’s when we really took the big hit from the state funding and now, it’s catching up to us,” said Estes. “The argument can be made, well, you are getting $500 some more per student, you really cannot mask what it costs to lose 250 students, that’s basically the bottom line,” said Estes.

Legal is another $400,000 hit to expenses, along with increase in utilities.

“We’ve done an analysis and it’s interesting back in 2008-9, our utilities are about what they are now,” said Estes. “We had a lot of reductions through ESCO that we had savings for and we paid that off in 2023-24, so we will save more money there.”

ESCO was the energy savings attempts where changes were made throughout the schools, including lighting and different energy sources.

“That kind of sustained us over the last few years, but Southwest Gas and Nevada Energy, their costs have escalated this year, more than I have seen in 20 years.”

Estes is hoping for some positives to happen in the budget.

“What we have done is tried to so some changing and reducing where we could,” said Estes. “We don’t want to cut off our noses despite our face at some point, so we have tried our best and this where we are.”


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment