Re-1 budget wins OK; work begins on mill levy override | AspenTimes.com

Re-1 budget wins OK; work begins on mill levy override

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Roaring Fork School District Re-1 board of education gave final approval Tuesday evening to a $41.6 million spending budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The budget reflects a $2.6 million cut in spending compared to this past year, the result of 5.1 percent reduction in per-pupil funding from the state of Colorado due to state budget cuts.

A further drop in state funding is likely due to a slight drop in enrollment.

“While student enrollment is actually expected to remain the same next year, the 2010-11 enrollment decline [of approximately 160 students] will result in a drop in funded pupil count next year due to a three-year enrollment averaging,” Re-1 Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Shannon Pelland explained in her budget summary to the school board.

However, kindergarten preregistration indicates a net increase of between 50 and 75 students at elementary schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt for this coming fall, she said.

The Re-1 budget cuts include the elimination of 13 teaching positions as part of an overall reduction in force of 76 full- and part-time staff positions districtwide.

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Other cuts include:

• A 1 percent across-the-board pay cut for all district and school-level administrators;

• Two furlough days, or equivalent pay cut, for all employees;

• A continued freeze on annual wage increases;

• A $222,000, or 22 percent, cut in classroom materials and supplies budgets; and,

• $107,273 in District Office cuts, including an accountant position and reductions in hours for three district-level support staff.

The latest cuts are on top of nearly $1 million in cuts that came as part of the 2010-11 District Re-1 budget.

The new budget includes the use of $300,000 in general fund reserves, which are being used to prevent the elimination of six teaching positions.

“The original budget reduction plan approved in April assumed the use of $400,000 of reserves for this purpose,” Pelland explained. “However, additional funding approved by the legislature in May reduced this amount by $100,000.”

The decision to use reserve funds was contingent on the school board considering a mill levy override question to put to Re-1 voters this fall as a way to make up for anticipated further cuts in state funding next year.

School board members offered assurances at the Tuesday meeting that they are moving forward with that plan over the summer.

“We need to be prepared to discuss the need for this mill levy,” school board member Myles Rovig said. “It’s important to me that folks can get answers now as to why we need to do this.”

Recently, the school district conducted a survey in the three Re-1 communities to gauge general support for a mill levy override, how much to ask for, and where the money should be used.

“We will discuss the survey results at the next meeting,” Pelland said, suggesting at least two meetings in July and August to come up with a ballot question.

Currently, the next school board meeting is set for July 20, although another meeting could be scheduled before that time.

“We will come up with a recommendation in the meantime and put together a proposal that hopefully the community can support,” she said.

A specific ballot question, including the mill levy amount and where the additional money is to be used, must be determined by the end of August in order to be put on the November 2011 ballot.

jstroud@postindependent.com

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