Large balance allows district to buy buses |

Large balance allows district to buy buses

There are Douglas County school buses older than the children they’re carrying.

During the Great Recession, the Douglas County School District put off replacing buses and other improvements.

“I believe some of the buses are approaching 18-20 years old,” Trustee Ross Chichester said. “If I were a parent with a small child, I would want them riding in newer equipment, especially with the way we’re growing in the Valley and the traffic. For years we had to put that off, and I think that we should probably start doing the right thing with some of this money.”

District Chief Financial Officer Susan Estes said the district has been setting aside money away since 2017-18 to deal with the unknown. The ending fund balance has grown to $7.849 million out of $61.5 million in resources.

Nevada budgets are public documents and are approved in multiple open meetings that are agendized and publicly noticed.

“As we rolled forward that money stayed in the ending fund balance, which is why we ended up with a healthy ending fund balance.”

School board trustees agreed with Chichester Dec. 10 and approved spending $532,000 for three new buses and another $800,000 for work on the HVAC units at Scarselli Elementary and Pau-Wa-Lu Middle schools.

“This happens to be one of those years that ends up being a good year,” Estes said. “We’ve been very, very conservative.”

There’s a good reason for that after the Nevada Legislature took up school funding reform that tends to take money away from rural districts and give it to Clark and Washoe counties.

“We have no idea how Senate Bill 543 is going to hit us,” Estes said. “We had a 3.4 percent reduction in the distributive school account while Washoe and Clark got 4.6-4.8 percent increases. We really were one of the districts hit hard.”

Estes said the budget builds in increases to salaries and wages that are currently the topic of negotiations.

Any negotiated increases would be retroactive back to July 1, 2019.

The district received a clean audit of its books from the firm of Rife Silva & Co.

The audit found no discrepancies.