Re-1 could lose 31 teaching jobs

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Possible elimination of 31 teaching positions throughout the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 stands out as the largest single cut on the table, as the Re-1 school board begins a series of public workshops Wednesday aimed at eventually trimming $3.5 million from the district budget.

That level of teaching cuts would amount to about $1.55 million, according to a budget update and explanation of the workshop approach that’s included in a weekly Community Update issued by district officials.

Overall, Re-1 is looking at a possible $2.1 million reduction in its $30.2 million instruction and instructional support budget, which translates to a cut of 7 percent.

That would also include possible furlough days for remaining teachers and staff, resulting in a savings of $155,557 per day, or a 0.5 percent pay cut.

An across-the-board pay cut would result in $307,500 for every 1 percent reduction, and another suggestion to adopt a four-day school week would result in another $150,000 savings.

The other major area where cuts will likely come is from the district’s $8.3 million district support budget, where an estimated $1.1 million, or 13 percent reduction, is possible.

The district’s special programs budget – including athletics and other extracurricular activities, district support for high school students to obtain college credits, and support for the pre-collegiate program – is also facing a potential 20 percent cut from the current $840,000 level of spending.

“We certainly haven’t decided on anything yet,” Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall said. “That’s the purpose for these workshops … to inform the community regarding the budget situation in the district.”

Cuts to district administration and support staff are on the table with everything else, she said.

“We’re looking at everything,” Haptonstall said. “I wish we could say we have some sacred things, but we don’t. And we definitely need to make sure we’re setting the example,” she said, as far as administrative costs.

The cuts are necessary due to a proposed $332 million cut in state funding for school districts statewide. The Colorado Legislature is currently debating that and other state budget cuts proposed for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Re-1 is turning to the public in an effort to determine where those cuts will eventually be made within this district.

Wednesday’s meeting takes place from 6-8 p.m. at the Re-1 District Office, 1405 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs. There will also be a live Internet broadcast for the public to view and offer comments at Carbondale and Glenwood Springs middle schools, and at Basalt Elementary School.

Budget sessions will continue on March 23 and April 13. The school board is scheduled to make a decision on the recommended cuts on April 20.

“Our goal with budget cuts for the 2010-2011 school year was to avoid any staff cuts if at all possible, and we were able to accomplish that,” Haptonstall explained in the weekly update, referring to $916,000 in cuts made for the current school year.

“Now, we must face the difficult and painful task of reducing positions in our organization,” she said. “Our goal is to avoid, as much as is fiscally possible, impacts on the quality of education in our schools.”

Also up for discussion is the potential for the district to increase revenues starting in 2012 with a mill levy override.

That question would have to go to district voters in the November election, and budget decisions cannot be made now based on potential new revenue.