School district bargaining team talks budget constraints | SteamboatToday.com

School district bargaining team talks budget constraints

The Steamboat Springs School District administration offices at 325 Seventh St.

— An overview of the district's budget constraints was an early topic of discussion during a Steamboat Springs School District Collaborative Bargaining Team meeting Wednesday.

The district has lowered its expectations for new students next year following the latest enrollment projections from the new Mountain Village Montessori Charter School, which translates into less revenue than initial budget projections.

Projections looked at by the CBT showed that 58 current SSSD first through sixth graders have accepted places in the Montessori school, and 78 preschool and kindergarten students who may or may not have become SSSD students also plan to attend the school.

An earlier proposal had budgeted for 40 new students next year, but the district is now budgeting for a loss of 20 students, a financial difference of about $430,000 in revenue.

Overall per pupil funding, however, will still increase by $120,000, due to an expected increase of about $109 per student in the state's PPF allocation.

"We're only looking at an extra $120,000 of revenue, and that is impactful for us," said Mark Rydberg, district finance director.

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The district will start the budget cycle with a $515,000 deficit from the current year and expects increased costs for health benefits ($140,000), retirement plan ($80,000) and other estimated increases.

A sub-committee of the CBT has been studying district health insurance costs and is continuing to meet. Currently, the district's health plans are not sustainable, Rydberg said.

Another budget consideration is a projected decrease of $550,000 in funds the district will receive from the Education Fund, which the district will offset through eliminating $210,000 in "class size" requests, $80,000 in professional development and $75,000 to pay for an instructional coach, among other reductions in technology.

Overall, the district is looking at $760,000 in costs over expected revenue, before considering increases to staff compensation.

Two staff CBT members said they wanted to revisit why staff salaries aren't considered earlier in the process.

Teacher Kim Waldschmidt said she felt there was a perception last year that the district's deficit spending was the teachers' fault because staff raises were agreed upon late in the district's budgeting process, which did include deficit spending.

"It would be great to start having that salary conversation first," said teacher Dierdre Boyd.

The group plans to meet again at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 13.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow