Budget cuts could affect Roaring Fork, Garfield County school districts | PostIndependent.com

Budget cuts could affect Roaring Fork, Garfield County school districts

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Roaring Fork School District could see a smaller increase in state funding than originally expected for next school year, but much remains to be seen about how the proposed state budget cuts will affect local schools.

“We can speculate about a lot of things now, but we don’t really know much at all at this point,” RFSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Shannon Pelland said.

For now, it appears there won’t be any actual funding reductions for the district, she said.

But a proposal currently on the table would send about $543,000 less in so-called “cost of living factor,” or inflationary, dollars to local schools than was originally allocated for next school year. That would represent about a 1.3 percent reduction from what was budgeted.

“It’s not a drop in funding from what we’re getting now,” Pelland said. “It is a cut from what had originally been budgeted. The district will still see an increase in funding based on inflation.”

Amendment 23, approved by Colorado voters in 2000, mandates state funding increases for public education based on yearly inflation, plus 1 percent.

However, the inflation rate is expected to be adjusted downward for next school year. It’s one area Gov. Bill Ritter and state budget officials hope to save about $70.7 million in an effort to make up a projected $600 million budget shortfall for the state.

Other area school districts would also see fewer dollars under the plan, including about $392,000 less for Garfield County School District Re-2 schools, $126,000 less for Parachute schools, and $281,000 less for Aspen schools, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

“It does penalize districts that have had the greatest cost of living increases in the past,” Pelland said.

Pelland attended a state school finance directors meeting in Denver last week. She described some of the earlier scenarios for cutting education spending as pretty “bleak.”

“But it has gotten better since then,” she told the RFSD Board of Education at its regular meeting Wednesday. “For this year, it doesn’t look too bad.”

One problem with a blanket funding reduction is that it leaves it up to local school districts where to make cuts.

“I think the Legislature is always hesitant to cut programs. It’s much easier to say, OK, here’s how much we’re cutting, you figure it out,” Pelland said.

She will be preparing a resolution to bring back to the school board next month suggesting different ways to approach the funding reductions, which will be forwarded to the State Legislature.

Contact John Stroud: 384-9160


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