South Routt School District seeks budget feedback

Survey questions to get community response about cuts, possible fees, school calendar

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South Routt School District officials are preparing a short survey to get community feedback about budget cuts next school year and in 2011-12.

Superintendent Scott Mader said the questions could include whether people would support a mill levy override, what their preference would be for how to reduce the number of school days in next year’s calendar, and whether they would support additional fees in 2011-12.

“These are just our preliminary thoughts,” he said. “They’re not finalized. Once they’re finalized, they could change.”

Mader clarified that the South Routt School Board hasn’t approved any of those measures. He said they’re just ideas about how the district could generate additional revenue or cut costs in an effort to make up a projected 2010-11 budget shortfall of $472,000. The district also expects to have to make cuts the next year, Mader said.

He said School Board Pres­ident Tim Corrigan was drafting a letter about the survey that the district has targeted to send to the community during the week of April 5. He said the survey would be available online and that people could call the administrative office to answer questions by telephone.

Mader said the district considered sending out a hard copy of the survey in community members’ water bills, but Oak Creek Fire Protection District Chief Chuck Wisecup already is sending a letter to the community in the next water bill in early April.

The district presented a preliminary 2010-11 budget to the School Board last week that includes measures to address the projected shortfall.

Some of the larger cuts include reducing the district’s ending fund balance by $116,000; eliminating an administrative position, which is part of $155,000 in projected staff cuts; and reducing supplies, services, professional development, maintenance, transportation, athletics, food service and technology by about 30 percent to save more than $78,000.

The preliminary budget doesn’t include salary increases for staff. But it also doesn’t include many staff cuts. With the exception of South Routt Elementary School Principal Michael Young and his wife, Kim, a fourth-grade teacher, both of whom will resign after the school year; and the retirement of Soroco High School vocational agriculture teacher Byron Dean; the district chose to not renew only the contract of a part-time licensed staff member at the high school.

“It’s fair to say that a good part of the budget decisions for 2010-11 have already been made,” Corrigan said. “There’s been quite a bit of work done on the budget to date, and most of the big decisions have been made about staffing patterns. And we’ve looked into most of the areas we feel we could make cuts.”

Corrigan said the questions about the mill levy override and school calendar could help with this year’s budget. He said questions about whether parents would consider additional fees for things, such as athletics, transportation and full-day kindergarten, would assist the district and School Board in making decisions for 2011-12.

If anything from the survey wasn’t supported, from the override to additional fees, Cor­­rigan said board members likely wouldn’t pursue it but would consider additional cuts.

Mader said the district would like to finish drafting the survey in time for a special School Board budget meeting scheduled for April 5. He said if it were sent out that week, community members would be able to respond before the next School Board meeting April 22.

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