Garfield Re-2 district faces cuts in 2010-11 budget
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Students in Garfield Re-2 are headed into the fourth quarter and that is a sure fire sign that spring is right around the corner.
There are so many wonderful accomplishments going on throughout the district: the Coal Ridge and Rifle High School girls basketball teams reaching the Great Eight and Sweet Sixteen, respectively, Natalie Bustad’s state spelling bee qualification, Joe Reyelts’ heading to the State Math Counts competition, the Coal Ridge and Rifle High School performances at the state bridge building competitions, the wonderful performances at the solo and ensemble competition, Riley Bolitho’s third place honors in the International Reading Association’s annual Young Writer’s competition, and the hundreds of students at last weekend’s DestiNation ImagiNation competition. This list, of course, is incomplete. I could fill the whole column with these kinds of student and staff accomplishments.
Along with all of these wonderful activities, one of the greatest challenges facing school districts across the state and the nation is the budget. Over the past several months, Garfield Re-2 has reached out to parents, community organizations and staff at all levels to help us develop the 2010-2011 budget and to create and evaluate ideas that could save the school district money. As we looked at the budget, Garfield Re-2 created a best-case and a worst-case scenario. These scenarios were based upon information from the state of Colorado and other potential impacts to the budget. The best-case scenario is a 10 percent budget reduction, while the worst-case scenario is a 14 percent reduction. As the Legislature continues to make budget adjustments, these numbers may change.
At the Feb. 23 school board meeting, a draft budget was presented to the board of directors that was reflective of the hundreds of ideas submitted by all of those involved. During this board meeting, the school board decided to move forward with the worst-case scenario and budget conservatively for the 2010-11 school year. This means that we anticipate a budget reduction of $4.5 million.
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To arrive at the proposed budget reductions, the school board and Garfield Re-2 administration worked through a collaborative process with our staff and gathered input from a variety of sources. All input was considered, valued and reviewed thoroughly by the board and administration. Our vision, mission, and essential functions framed each conversation. The complete list of reductions is posted on the garfieldre2.org website, under the 2011 budget tab on the left rail, but in general, Garfield Re-2 will be reducing non-salary budgets by 10 percent or more, reducing overtime budgets, implementing four furlough days for 2010-11, and eliminating after school and summer school programs unless they are funded through grants. The largest reductions will come in the area of staffing because Garfield Re-2’s budget is 85 percent salaries. Overall, we anticipate reducing salaries by $1.1 million. We hope to do this through attrition – not replacing those folks who choose to retire or leave the district – and we are working hard to find a place for all of our retained employees.
Additionally, Garfield Re-2 will spend $823,000 from the general fund to help us get through these difficult times. All of these measures combined will get us to just under $4.5 million.
While the state’s budget situation creates a number of challenges for our district, we have a lot to be thankful for.
The Garfield School District Re-2 is in good financial shape. We have been conscientious with our budgets, kept a careful eye on the bottom line, and because of this, we have a healthy “rainy day fund” or fund balance. This fund balance will help stabilize the boat as we navigate the rough waters ahead. We are fortunate to be able to utilize federal and state grants to help fund positions. As we look at trying to retain as many of our staff members as possible, we will be able to use these grants to take over a portion of their salaries and reduce the amount of money needed for salaries in the general fund. Of course, this does not work for all positions, but it does help.
We have a great staff that has helped through every step of the process. They have developed creative ideas on cost savings, and efficiencies while staying focused on the district’s mission and vision. The staff of Garfield Re-2 – from the administrators to the custodians, from the teachers to the nutrition service workers – are committed to continuing the safe and engaging school environment that we have at Garfield Re-2 this year, next year, and well into the future. We are grateful to our community for their long-lasting support of the school district through the past bond and mill-levy campaigns. It is through your dedication that we have excellent facilities, research-based programs, and hired and retained some of the best educators around.
The budget will not formally be presented to the school board for approval in May 2010 and many things may change in the mean time. We will be posting regular updates on the Garfield Re-2 website at http://www.garfieldre2.org under the 2011 budget information tab.
If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us either through the form provided on the web site, through Director of Finance Christy Hamrick at 665-7600, or the principal of your local community school building.
Theresa Hamilton is director of districtwide services for Re-2.
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