Re-1 lays out budget-cutting process | AspenTimes.com

Re-1 lays out budget-cutting process

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The general public will be given ample opportunity to weigh in on an anticipated $3.5 million in as-yet undetermined budget cuts for Roaring Fork District Re-1 schools next year.

Under a proposal presented to the Re-1 school board Wednesday, a series of public sessions addressing the 2011-12 budget will begin with the regular March 9 school board meeting.

District officials will use the time from 6-8 p.m. to explain the budget process, as well as what cuts were made this year, which broad areas will be looked to for cuts next year, and some options for increasing revenues, Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall said.

“The goal is to maximize exposure and community input in this process,” Haptonstall said. “It’s important that everyone hear what we did cut this year and to understand that process and what it means for next year.”

Additional meetings are scheduled for March 23, April 13 and April 20, when several proposed budget scenarios are to be presented and eventually acted on.

In addition to the live venue at the Re-1 District Office in Glenwood Springs, the meetings are to be simulcast via the Internet for audiences to observe and interact with their questions and comments from the Carbondale and Basalt middle school auditoriums.

District Re-1, which includes public schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt, is responding to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s 2011-12 state budget last week which proposes cutting $332 million in funding for K-12 public schools.

For Re-1, that will mean trimming about $3.5 million from its $40 million budget, said Shannon Pelland, the district assistant superintendent for business services.

“That’s worse than any of the worst-case scenarios we had talked about previously,” Pelland advised school board members at their regular Wednesday meeting in Glenwood Springs.

Initially, she was anticipating about a 4 percent cut in state funding, which would have amounted to about $2.5 million for the local school district.

District officials met with principals last Friday to begin talking about what the cuts will mean for individual schools.

“There’s no way this will not impact teachers and class sizes, when 85 percent of our budget is salaries,” Pelland said. “Everything in the district will be impacted by a cut of this magnitude.”

In addition to gathering input from district employees and the public, the district’s Interest-Based Bargaining committee will also be making recommendations on the budget cuts, she said.

That committee normally reviews and makes recommendations on teacher salaries and benefits from year to year. But with an ongoing wage freeze in place, its role for a second year now will be to help decide where additional cuts can be made.

“It’s important for the community to see our priority is classrooms and the kids in those classrooms,” Haptonstall said. “What I don’t want in this process is to pit one group of people against another. We would like to make this as civil and thoughtful a process as we can.”

jstroud@postindependent.com


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