Board takes up Aspen school budget cuts
ASPEN – The Aspen Board of Education will get its first glimpse of what cuts might be necessary for the 2012-13 school year Monday when it reviews recommendations by the district’s budget-reduction task force.
“As we look at all the changes to revenues and expenditures that we know about now, we will have a net shortfall of approximately $640,000 before utilizing any mill levy override savings or other reserves,” finance director Kate Fuentes wrote in a memo to the school board. With the mill levy override funds in place, Fuentes estimates the shortfall to be around $330,000, which is considerably less than once anticipated.
“The bill that is going through the state Legislature does provide for a smaller reduction than the projections we had from Colorado Department of Education earlier in the winter, but we won’t know for sure where we are until the bill gets passed and signed by the governor,” she added.
Thus, the budget-reduction task force was charged with finding ways to slash $330,000 from next year’s budget. As in the past two years – when the cuts totaled more than $1 million – the task force divided the proposed changes into three tiers.
Among the recommendations in Tier 1 is cutting one middle school teaching position by attrition, the elimination of parts of some bus routes and an increase in student parking fees. Tier 2 recommendations include a reduction in personal days for district personnel, the elimination of club sponsor payments and an increase in kindergarten tuition. At the Tier 3 level, proposed changes include eliminating two teaching positions as well as the addition of a staff furlough day.
According to the memo from Fuentes and Aspen Superintendent John Maloy, the district believes many of the Tier 1 items “can be reduced irrespective of additional revenue becoming available to the district in the future.”
District administrators are asking for board input on several other items, however. Among those are the kindergarten tuition increase, the reduction in personal days and changes to the transportation budget.
Fuentes stressed that Monday’s 4 p.m. discussion (in the district board room at Aspen High School) is an update on “what we know right now,” not a formal budget discussion. The first formal budget presentation will be in May.
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