Washoe County’s economy continues to experience slow and declining growth, which affects the district in various ways, according to the audit submitted for review. The district has adopted “best practices” financial policies relating to minimum fund balances, contingencies and other policies, according to the report.
For the fourth consecutive year, the number of students attending Washoe schools has declined. The preliminary count showed 62,219 students enrolled for the 2011-12 school year. In 2010-2011, the audit enrollment was 62,323 — a decrease of 104 students, or .17 percent. This trend also is seen in other districts across the state.
Although the 2011-12 budget, approved by the state Legislature, included $50.6 million in reductions and cost-savings measures, salaries and benefits made up 90.1 percent of all “General and Special Education Funds Expenditures by Type” spending. The remaining were 3.7 percent on Purchased Services, 5.4 percent on Supplies, .07 on Property and .01 on “other.”
According to the audit, the district’s final 2011-2012 budget included maintaining a two-student increase in class sizes for grades one through three, deferring textbook purchases for another year, using savings from health care negotiations and spending down contingency and fund balance amounts. The budget also contained more reductions to Central and Direct School Support Services and negotiated employee concessions. The district has finalized negotiations with four of its five employee associations, resulting in significant concessions.
Financial highlights include:
• Government-wide net assets were increased by $7.2 million to $379.1 million.
• Unrestricted net assets declined slightly to $60.1 million.
• The district’s total revenues decreased by $8.4 million to $597.5 million. The most significant revenue sources are local school support taxes (sales tax) at $128.8 million, property taxes (ad valorem) at $153.7 million and state aid at $144 million.
• The district’s total expenses increased by $4.3 million to $590.4 million, the most significant of which were in regular instruction at $200.9 million, special education instruction at $66.1 million, operation and maintenance at $45.8 million and other instruction (primarily grants) at $62.8 million.
• Net capital assets increased to $647.3 million.
• Major additions include $14.9 million for school renewals, $6.7 million for photovoltaic energy conservation projects, $5.2 million for machinery and equipment and $500,000 for technology upgrades.
• Depreciation expense totaling $22.9 million is included in the government-wide statements.
• The district’s general obligation bonds payable decreased by $41.8 million, or 7.9 percent.
Another current topic to be discussed at today’s meeting is redrawing districts for board of trustee representation. Following a series of five town hall meetings and several discussions about mapping out different proposals, staff decided on six preliminary proposals. Trustees will be presented with the final proposals and data accumulated at the town hall meetings, from public interest groups and an online survey.
Today’s meeting starts at 4 p.m. at the school district’s Administration Building Board Room, 425 E. Ninth St. in Reno.