School district seeks input on spending extra money |

School district seeks input on spending extra money

John Colson

Got some ideas about how the Aspen School District should spend the roughly $700,000 that voters approved last year?The school district will hold two meetings to gather public input on spending the money from the mill levy override, which passed Nov. 1. The vote allowed the district to keep extra property tax revenues it collected in 2005.The money must be used exclusively as part of the district’s operating budget, meaning salaries and benefits, or “instructional program needs.””It could be anything, and that’s what we want the community to help us with,” Superintendent Diana Sirko said this week.She said the administration has held six meetings already to gather ideas from the school’s staff and from parents. The suggestions gleaned from those meetings will be available to those attending the upcoming meetings.Using a good portion for salaries, Sirko said, would help the district’s efforts to attract and retain higher-quality staff, mostly teachers.Another potential use for the money, parents and staff members at the meetings said, is professional development, which budget cuts reduced “to almost nothing” in the last couple of years, Sirko said. An increase in money for professional development would bring in more specialists to conduct teacher training sessions and would help the district send more teachers to educational workshops.Sirko said the district has not yet decided what percentage of the $700,000 will go toward salaries and benefits and what percentage will go toward instructional needs.”In fact, that is currently being negotiated” among administrators and staff, she said.As for the upcoming meetings, Sirko said, “We wanted to give the community an update … and run by the community a kind of priority list.” She said information also will be available concerning progress of the district’s plans for building a new middle school and making repairs and alterations to the elementary school.The meetings will be at 6 p.m. March 21 and 10 a.m. March 23 in the Aspen High School Seminar Room, at 0235 High School Road, just off Maroon Creek Road outside Aspen.The schedule of the meetings, Sirko said, is intended “to find a time that meets people’s varying schedules.” She emphasized that the two meetings will be nearly the same, so there is no need for people to attend both.For more information about the meetings, contact Angela Rittenhouse at the district offices at 925-3760, extension 4007.John Colson’s e-mail address is

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