Steamboat Springs In the face of decreasing revenue and increasing expenditures, the Steamboat Springs School District plans to cut nearly $500,000 from its 2003-04 fiscal year budget.
Superintendent Cyndy Simms asked the Steamboat Springs School Board at its Monday study session for authorization to begin reduction proposals in cooperation with the district's administrative team.
The cuts will be reflected in the district's June preliminary budget, which must be approved by the School Board before July 1.
Simms said it was premature to discuss specific cuts, but that the administrative team would work hard to minimize the impact to district students.
"We want the cuts to be as far away from the students -- educational programs -- as possible," Simms said. "Second, we want to share the pain across the district."
However, the hope is that none of the cuts involve teachers, Simms said.
"At this point, none of the cuts involve the reduction of a certified staff member," she said. "We don't think that will be necessary."
According to a budget update presented by district Finance Director Dale Mellor on Monday, a $263,610 increase in state finance formula revenue next year will be washed out by staff salary increases, new special education teachers and rising insurance costs. The result is a projected $494,070 deficit.
Five percent staff salary increases will cost the district $491,000, new special education teachers will cost $168,000 and a 10.9 percent increase in insurance fees will cost $106,000, according to the budget.
Faced with grim projections for future years, the district has no choice but to make cuts immediately, Simms said.
"We have to (make cuts)," Simms said. "If we don't the deficit will just carry over."
The projected deficit increases to $684,030 if a Montessori charter school opens in the fall, according to the budget.
Simms told the School Board the administrative team will propose additional budget cuts to reflect a Montessori charter school impact in the event the school does open in the fall.
This won't be the first time the district has been forced to make significant budget cuts. The district cut $1 million from its budget on two occasions in the early 1990s due to state finance formula changes, Simms said.
In other School Board news, late start will be implemented district-wide next year.
Beginning in September, the school day will begin at approximately 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. Teachers, who will begin late-start days at approximately 7:45 a.m., will use the additional time for team planning and curriculum development.
Late start is needed to provide school faculty with adequate time and training to ensure that every student will be proficient or advanced in Colorado state standards, according to a flier distributed at Monday's meeting.
Before-school activities will not be provided for students on late start days because the district doesn't have enough aides to handle the responsibility and because all teachers and principals must participate in team planning and curriculum development for late start to serve its purpose, Simms said.
The district will consult with Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department for ideas for possible late start-day student activities, Simms said.
In a school calendar survey mailed to district parents and staff earlier this year, 52 percent of respondents supported late start, 21 percent supported late start "only if alternative activities for students are provided until school begins" and 27 percent didn't support late start at all.
School Board members Tami Havener and Pat Gleason said they were concerned that most parents will be against late start in the absence of before-school activities.
In the end, however, the School Board agreed to leave the decision to Simms, who said late start will ultimately benefit students.
"Our commitment is to reduce the number of days our teachers are away from kids in the classroom, and this is a way to do it," Simms said. "We know the principals really want and need this."
Transportation Director Marj Kelton is drafting a bus schedule that will pick up students two hours later than usual for late start days, Simms said.