Douglas school trustees OK budget, superintendent contract

Kurt Hildebrand
Keith Lewis

A three-year contract for new Douglas County School Superintendent Keith Lewis was recently approved.

Lewis, the current district human relations director, officially starts work June 1.

That will provide a month of overlap with present superintendent Teri White, who is retiring at the end of the fiscal year.

Under the contract that was finalized Tuesday, May 19, Lewis will be paid $150,500 a year, which is close to the amount White was taking home.

Lewis is taking over leadership of the school district during a difficult time. The schools have been closed since May 16, and there are no definite answers to what students, teachers and administrators will be facing when they return in August.

On Tuesday, Douglas County School Board trustees approved a final $59.5 million budget knowing they’re going to have to revise it in July.

District Business Services Director Susan Estes told trustees there isn’t a lot of new information or changes in the final budget.

The district cut $654,855 from last year’s budget because student enrollment continues to decrease.

Nevada funds school districts based on the number of students, though that formula is expected to change next year.

Enrollment peaked in March 2019 at 5,871 students. The district was down to 5,819 students in March this year.

“We know our revenue is going to be reduced and the Distributive School Account is going to be lower,” White told school Board members. “We don’t anticipate making any cuts, but until we get the final numbers we have to go with what we know.”

District officials haven’t reduced their maintenance budget in anticipation of possible expenditures required to open school under coronavirus rules.

“We decided the maintenance budget was not a place we could cut this year until we know what the beginning of school looks like.”

The contract approved Tuesday may be terminated by either party, with the school board required to provide 30 days notice.

Should Lewis be fired for cause, he would be paid through the end of his employment. If he’s fired without cause, the district would have to pay a lump sum that’s the equivalent to nine-months salary.

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