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Tough decisions are ahead

Eben HarrellAspen Times Staff Writer

Charging tuition for kindergarten is only one of many steps the school district will take to eliminate its $1 million budget, say administrators.In the coming years, tough decisions will be made, and jobs will be lost.The districts financial advisory board has laid out a three-year plan of various cuts in spending. Next year, district officials are focusing on what they call soft cuts changes that have little effect on students experiences. The implementation of a kindergarten tuition, cuts in school supplies (particularly in the elementary school), reduction in development training for teachers and the raising of athletic fees are all moves to improve the districts bottom line.Yet the district will also eliminate three to four staff positions next year, with more cuts to come. Superintendent Dr. Diana Sirko confirmed that one retiring teacher will not be replaced and that two employees will lose their positions, although it is not known yet who will be forced to leave.Eighty-seven percent of our budget goes to salary and benefits, Sirko said. With such a large budget deficit, you cant stay away from that for long.The school board also announced that it will consider hiring younger teachers with less experience. Such teachers would be paid less and be less likely to burden the district with retirement payments.Weve had a long-standing policy of making sure we hired the best. But that was under a very different budget environment, school board President Jon Seigle said.Along with larger cuts, district officials will be looking everywhere to save money. High school Principal Kendall Evans suggested looking into reducing the temperature in the high school from 68 to 67 degrees, thereby saving on heating costs.[Eben Harrells e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com]


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