Aspen schools use reserves to balance budget |

Aspen schools use reserves to balance budget

ASPEN – The Aspen School District will pull about $220,000 from its reserves to balance the 2012-13 budget. The decision, made at Monday’s Board of Education meeting, means no teachers will lose their jobs and no major cuts will be made to programs.

“The good news is everyone has a job,” said school board President Elizabeth Parker. “The bad news is they’re not getting paid as much as they should be getting paid.”

In fact, all district personnel will be required to take one furlough day in 2012-13 and at least one more furlough day in 2013-14.

Still, Aspen teachers and staff will see some increased compensation next year, including a step on the salary schedule for longevity/years of experience, educational increases for those who have completed a degree and raises for nonteaching staff and administrators. District salaries essentially have been frozen for the past two years, which had school board members worrying that teachers might begin to leave the district if things didn’t change.

The decision to dip into reserves to offer some type of increased compensation to teachers came after a lengthy negotiation process with the teachers’ association and an executive session at Monday’s board meeting.

“There have been a lot of discussions, and they had to give up a lot, but also got some things in return,” said Parker. “I applaud everyone on a process that was very collaborative, and that resulted in a recommendation that was supported by all sides.”

According to the budget presented by finance director Kate Fuentes, the district has a net deficit of $899,000 for the 2012-13 school year. The district balanced the budget by using its remaining one-time mill levy override funds – to the tune of $681,000 – and tapping its reserves.

The district will not have any additional mill levy override funds after 2012-13, however, which means it must find other ways of covering a projected annual deficit of some $900,000. The school district’s reserves currently stand at $6.2 million.

“Unless there is a change in the revenue picture, we cannot continue to cover this type of deficit,” said Fuentes.

Parker agreed: “Two years from now, if we don’t see significant changes in funding – at the state or local levels – we will be at a very difficult point.”

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