Roaring Fork Schools adopts $189 million budget for ’17-18 | PostIndependent.com

Roaring Fork Schools adopts $189 million budget for ’17-18

A 2017-18 budget for the Roaring Fork Schools includes a large outlay of capital funds related to the ongoing bond issue construction projects, along with a 3.3 percent increase in state per-pupil funding that will result in wage increases.

The Roaring Fork District school board on June 28 gave final approval to a combined $189 million budget for the coming school year.

The budget includes a $67 million general operating fund, up by about $2.3 million from the prior year, which concluded at the end of June.

The largest of the school district's 12 separate funds is the building fund, which at $89 million represents the ongoing proceeds from the $122 million bond issue that was authorized by district voters in November 2015.

That money is being used to pay for a range of districtwide facility improvements, including the brand new $34 million Riverview School south of Glenwood Springs and the major addition/remodel at Glenwood Springs Elementary School.

Other bond projects include two bus maintenance facilities, security upgrades at existing schools, and $15 million that was set aside to purchase or develop teacher/staff housing.

Several projects are scheduled to be completed by December, though some will carry over into 2018, including a planned teacher housing development in Carbondale and renovation of the historic original building at GSES.

The district's approved $67 million general fund accounts for most school operations and related support functions.

According to a district news release, approximately $1.2 million of the anticipated $1.37 million increase in state funding will be applied to salaries and benefits, including a 1.8 percent average wage increase for employees.

"Offering competitive salaries will continue to be a district priority and a challenge with average teacher salaries in Colorado lagging nearly $8,000 below the national average, primarily as a result of lower-than-average funding of public education in Colorado," district officials stated in the release.

Funds will also be used to cover an expected 6 percent increase in district-funded health insurance costs; and a 0.5 percent increase in the required contribution to PERA (Colorado's retirement plan for public employees).

"The remaining increase in per pupil operating funds will cover other inflationary costs and start-up expenditures associated with Riverview School," the district explained in the release.

Riverview will serve students from grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade in the area south of Glenwood Springs, including the Ironbridge and Westbank neighborhoods, Spring Valley, and the Colorado 82 corridor to Cattle Creek.

The new budget also includes a one-time allocation from the state of $951,000 under the Sustainability of Rural Colorado Act, which was passed by the Colorado Legislature in May. It includes funding to assist rural areas with hospitals and road in addition to education.

"Once additional guidance is received from the Colorado Department of Education, the Board of Education will develop a process for determining how the funds will be spent to address priorities established under the act," the district release stated.

The district's budget process begins in January of each year, culminating with board approval of the budget in late June.

A complete copy of the 2017-18 budget can be found on the Roaring Fork School District's website at http://www.rfschools.com.