Roaring Fork’s override funds could be used this school year |

Roaring Fork’s override funds could be used this school year

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Some of the new $4.8 million in annual property taxes approved by Roaring Fork School District Re-1 voters last week could be used in the current budget year, according to Re-1 Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Shannon Pelland.

But whether and how to use any of the funds that come in before next June would be up to the new school board, she said.

The adjusted mill levy will be reflected on 2011 property taxes within the school district, payable in the first half of 2012, which falls within the school district’s 2011-12 budget year.

“That money is not reflected in the adopted budget, so the board would have to make additional appropriations in order for that to happen,” Pelland said.

Meanwhile, three new school board members will be sworn in at the regular school board meeting Wednesday afternoon at the district office in Glenwood Springs.

The new board members, Matt Hamilton, Daniel Biggs and Terry Lott Richardson, were elected in the Nov. 1 balloting. At the same, Re-1 voters approved the district’s mill levy override question.

As one result of the mill levy vote, the board will be asked to cancel two teacher and staff furlough days that were included in the 2011-12 budget.

“That is something that the previous board had agreed to, if the mill levy passed,” Pelland said. “We will be asking the new board to affirm that.”

Pelland is also recommending that $300,000 in reserve funds that were used to supplement this year’s budget be reimbursed using the override funds.

Beyond that, any additional use of the new funds in the current school year would have to be discussed by the board, she said.

“Even if we didn’t have a new board, we would have to go through that process,” she said. “But it’s a good time to have that discussion to start to identify the most pressing priorities.”

The ballot question specified that the new funds were to be used to maintain reasonable class sizes, attract and retain quality staff, provide texts, technology and other learning materials, and to maintain buildings.

Cuts in state per-pupil funding, due to Colorado’s budget woes, led Re-1 to trim $2.6 million from its budget for this year, and more than $5 million over the past two years.

This year alone, that included the elimination of 13 teaching positions as part of an overall reduction in force of 76 full- and part-time staff positions districtwide, a 1 percent pay cut for all employees, a continued freeze on updated curriculum purchases, and a 22 percent reduction in school building materials and classroom supplies budgets. The district includes schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Pelland will also update the board Wednesday on the latest word from state officials regarding K-12 education funding cuts for 2012-13.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s preliminary budget includes another $89 million in cuts for K-12 schools, which for Re-1 would translate to another $900,000 funding reduction.

However, that number is expected to change numerous times before a final budget is approved by the state Legislature next spring.

Earlier budget projections were for another $200 million cut in education funding, which some observers say may still be a more realistic figure, Pelland said. If that were the case, the impact for next year to Re-1 would be closer to $2 million.

The school board meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Re-1 District Office on Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs.