Threat cancels Douglas school budget hearing on Tuesday

Kurt Hildebrand
Record Courier

A credible threat against Douglas County School District officials has prompted the cancellation of Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“After consultation with Sheriff Dan Coverley and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that the cancelation of the May 18 meeting was in the best interest of community safety,” Superintendent Keith Lewis said.

Two men were taken into custody 5:30 p.m. Thursday, including one who made a threat against the school board.

Aaron Rasavage and Justin Hill were arrested in the Gardnerville Ranchos area for stalking and intimidating a police officer.

Rasavage is a person of interest into the investigation regarding the school district.

The two incidents are linked and an there is an ongoing investigation at this time, the Sheriff’s Office said on Friday. Rasavage was released on bail on Friday morning.

“The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will be providing extra patrol and has made our School Resource Officers aware of the concern,” said Sheriff Coverley. “The safety of our students, teachers, staff, parents and our community remain a primary concern at this time.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will continue to be proactive and remain in constant communication with the school district regarding the matter.

School Board trustees will meet virtually at 4 p.m. Wednesday via Zoom, where residents can participate and offer public comment.

As part of that agenda, the district will reschedule its tentative budget hearing.

In addition to the budget, the school board will discuss Lewis’ contract and an agreement with the Douglas County Professional Education Association.

The delay may provide the district with a better idea of what the Legislature is going to do with rural school budgets.

“We are still in a complete holding pattern,” Lewis said on Thursday. “The budget being brought forward will look very similar to the tentative budget from last month. Frustrating times dealing with the Legislature and the potential implementation of the new funding formula.”

That funding formula was set forth in Senate Bill 543, which was approved by the 2019 Legislature to change the Nevada Plan, where every property owner pays 75 cents per $100 assessed valuation, which had been in place since 1983.

Each of the state’s 17 counties receives the per pupil amount, this year budgeted at $6,520 for Douglas, ensuring that the state’s rural counties have adequate school funding. That amounts to $34.4 million, according to the final budget going to the school board on Tuesday.

The new distribution weights funding toward students that cost more to educate, including English language learners and special education students.

The state’s most populated counties, Clark and Washoe counties could see increases in their budgets, because those students make up a larger percentage of their enrollment.

With around 320,000 students, Clark County is the nation’s fourth largest school district.

Douglas officials are concerned that the new law will cut into the $7.72 million the county receives from the state. That won’t be assured until after the Legislature closes the K-12 budget, which has yet to happen.

Douglas County is budgeting for a 100-student decrease for next year to 5,334 students and 341 classroom teachers.

The rest of the district’s budget comes from the 75-cent ad valorem tax which raises $24.656 million.

The districts general fund is $60.24 million, with $30.84 million going for salaries and wages and another $13.24 million for employee benefits and $8.83 million going to services and supplies.

Nevada law requires that local government budgets are balanced.

School Board trustees will meet remotely on Wednesday.

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