Steamboat School District presents possible cuts
Officials still don’t expect to lay off employees
March 2, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Everything in on the table as the Steamboat Springs School District considers how to address a projected $2 million shortfall in its 2010-11 budget, Superintendent Shalee Cunningham told the School Board on Monday night.
For the first time, Cunningham presented to board members what could be cut with an anticipated reduction in state funding and increase in health insurance and retirement benefits. Cunningham has said she wanted to meet with district staff at each school and each parent group before recommending possible cuts.
Cunningham said the district would like to avoid a reduction in force, or layoffs.
"We won't be doing RIFs," she said. "We will be reducing costs through attrition and non-renewals. We have first-, second- and third-year teachers that are (probationary) who won't be renewed next year."
Cunningham said the district would like to inform staff about any personnel decisions by April 1. She said 10 district staff members already have indicated they will retire after the school year.
Staffing decisions could be affected by what gifts the district receives from the Education Fund Board, Cunningham said. She told the School Board that she anticipates the district not receiving all of what it requested for small class size, the gifted and talented program and counselors.
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All of the budget-saving measures Cunningham presented to board members are preliminary. She said the district wouldn't know until May how much funding will be cut from the state, but she has projected an 8 percent decrease. The district won't prepare its preliminary budget for board approval until June 30, Finance Director Dale Mellor said.
Some of the possible budget-saving measures include moving maintenance and operations to each school site, bidding snow removal (a $250,000 to $350,000 annual cost to the district) and gardening to third parties, reducing low-capacity bus routes and sports programs (wrestling, which could be consolidated with the Hayden or South Routt school districts, and softball), reducing district office program budgets by 10 percent, reducing school site budgets by 10 percent and ordering office and classroom supplies in bulk.
Possible fee increases include facility rentals, field trips, sports, lunch prices and charging $200 a month per child for full-day kindergarten. The program no longer supports itself because of the number of scholarships the district provides, Cunningham said.
Also at Monday's meeting, Mellor presented a "very, extremely preliminary" revenue budget for 2010-11. The budget projected $1.6 million less revenue than 2009-10 to just more than $20 million.
He said the district still projects a $2 million shortfall because of anticipated increases to employee health insurance and retirement benefits through the Public Employees' Retirement Association of Colorado.
Mellor reiterated that the revenue budget was very preliminary and said it changes daily.
Members of the public will have a chance to hear a budget update during a workshop the School Board scheduled for March 15. It will start with an executive session at 6 p.m. followed by the budget discussion from 7 to 9 p.m.
It will include a presentation about the budget and possible cuts and will include time for community members to provide feedback.
"If people want to come, this is a golden opportunity to go through it with them," School Board President Robin Crossan said about the budget.
Members of the community still can post budget reduction suggestions at http://www.sssdbudget
blog.blogspot.com. Another budget update is scheduled for the March 29 School Board meeting, which board members rescheduled from March 22.