School board OKs trimmed budget
The Aspen School Board set next year’s budget Monday with no significant alterations, putting a final stamp of approval on $500,000 in cuts, including the paring down of the elementary school’s assistant principal position to half time and the introduction of tuition for full-day kindergarten.The final approval followed a 10-day public comment period for the proposed budget. At a board meeting on May 24, a standing-room only crowd of elementary school teachers pleaded for the school’s assistant principal position to remain full time.Board President Jon Seigle said after much discussion the board was comfortable with its final decision.”The goal of this first round was to keep the cuts away from the kids. Most cuts are in places kids will never see, such as administration positions,” Seigle said. “All things being equal, we’d love to be able to fund [a full-time assistant principal]. But I think in light of a million-dollar deficit, this is an appropriate cut.”Aspen Middle School assistant principal Paula Canning will become the new principal of the middle school; elementary school assistant principal Doreen Goldyn has been tapped for the joint middle and elementary school assistant principal position. The move will save the district $100,000 next year.The approval of the budget also ended a long-running debate over whether the district should continue to fund full-day kindergarten. Colorado only reimburses schools for half days of kindergarten. Starting next year, parents will be charged $200 a month for full-day classes, unless they have other children in kindergarten or preschool, in which case they will be charged $100 a month. Families that qualify for federal free or reduced lunch programs will be charged $50 a month. The tuition should bring an extra $95,000 next year.Board members congratulated Superintendent Diana Sirko and finance director Bill Anuszewski on Monday for their work putting together the budget. Seigle pointed to $160,000 saved by switching to a new health insurance carrier as an example of cuts masterminded by Sirko and Anuszewski that will not affect students.The budget adopted Monday represents the first in a three-year plan to eliminate a nearly $1 million deficit. The budget for 2005-06, which will cut another $250,000, will be assembled with input from a panel of community members to be established in September.The next school board meeting is Aug. 2.Eben Harrell’s e-mail is email@example.com
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