School board mulls ways to shore up deficit |

School board mulls ways to shore up deficit

While increased funding from the state will add $154,000 to the Aspen School District’s budget for next year, the district still will see a $495,000 deficit next year, the board learned at Monday night’s school board meeting.

As reported last week, the increase is a part of Amendment 23, passed by state voters in 2000. The amendment boosted per-pupil funding at the rate of inflation plus 1 percent.

A budgetary status report was discussed last night as the board gets closer to final approval of a budget for the 2004-05 school year.

According to a report from the district’s financial advisory board, changes in how employees receive ski passes is one way the budget may change. During the past year, anyone that requested a two-day-per-week ski pass from the Aspen Skiing Co. received one.

But Superintendent Diana Sirko said the district has learned that 30 percent of faculty and staff members with a ski pass go onto the ski slopes less than five days per ski season. As a result, next year’s budget may include a “wellness benefit program,” offering alternatives to ski passes, such as discounted membership to the Aspen Recreation Center.

The program may save the district money on ski passes that are rarely used.

The financial advisory board will be reviewing the schools’ financial outlook this week, in order to present their proposed budget to the school board in two weeks. Then comes a 10-day public notice period in which residents can comment on the budget.

The financial plan will be approved at the school board’s last meeting in June.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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