Aspen schools to balance budget for next year |

Aspen schools to balance budget for next year

ASPEN – The final numbers are in, and the Aspen School District will face at least a $624,000 net deficit for the 2012-13 school year. The district can cover the amount without any major cuts to programs or personnel, however, by using most of its remaining one-time mill levy funds.

“The picture is considerably better than when we started the budget process,” said finance director Kate Fuentes in presenting the final budget to the Aspen Board of Education on Monday.

And while the budget news is not nearly as grim as once anticipated, the board was reminded that future cuts to the tune of $600,000 per year are likely.

Plus, the budget presented Monday does not account for any increase in teacher and staff salaries, which have been essentially frozen for the past two years. It is a point that school board members debated at a previous meeting, worrying that teachers might begin to leave the district if things don’t change.

District administrators are in negotiations with the teachers association, and Superintendent John Maloy said the only reason the approved budget might be different from the version presented Monday is if “a settlement with the teachers association has been negotiated.”

If so, the small amount remaining in the mill-levy pool could be used, further cuts could be made, the board could choose to dip into reserves or some combination therein.

“The big picture is that what we have presented is bare bones,” Fuentes said. “Anything we feel we have to do on top of that will need to be funded.”

The school board is slated to approve the budget at its June 4 meeting.

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