RFSD eyes increase in spending for next year | PostIndependent.com

RFSD eyes increase in spending for next year

The Roaring Fork School District is looking to spend about $2.2 million more next school year on general operations than it did this year, driven in part by an increase in per-pupil funding from the state.

The district is due for a 1.7 percent increase in equalization funding from the state, from $7,531 per student this year to $7,660 for the 2016-17 school year, according to Shannon Pelland, assistant superintendent and chief financial officer for the district.

That was the amount included in the state budget that was recently approved by the Colorado Legislature and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The RFSD board is still in the process of reviewing a proposed $52.2 million spending budget for the coming fiscal year that begins in July. That's also roughly the amount the district expects to receive in the way of revenues, according to the proposed budget.

Spending for the current year is coming in at around $50.1 million. That's about $2.3 million less than was budgeted, Pelland said.

The school board is slated to hold a formal public hearing on the 2016-17 budget at its regular June 8 meeting.

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Included in the proposed budget is $34.2 million for instruction and $2.5 million for pupil services at district schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

General administration costs are budgeted at $900,000, and school-level administration comes in at $4.2 million.

The budget does not assume an increase in student enrollment for next year, which stands at 5,461 full-time equivalent students. An increase of 21 students this year resulted in unanticipated revenues for the district, Pelland noted in her report.

"Other revenues [for 2016-17] are assumed to be relatively consistent with current-year projected actual and/or budgeted amounts," she wrote.

Salaries and benefits make up about 85 percent of the district's general fund budget. Teacher pay will be going up about 1.8 percent between market and salary schedule increases, at a projected cost of $698,000.

Pay for certified staff is also due for a market adjustment under the proposed budget.

"A recent wage survey indicates that our wages have fallen behind market in many of our classified staff positions," Pelland noted in the budget report. "Bringing these wages as close to market as possible will be critical as we are currently having difficulty filling many of our open positions."

In addition to the per-pupil funding increase from the state, the district also proposes to budget the remaining $500,000 from the 2011 mill levy override to support the pay increases.

"As of this year, $500,000 of the total $4.8 million override was held as contingency as part of the original 3- to 5-year plan to offset potential state funding cuts," Pelland explained.

Now that the 5-year period has concluded, "we are recommending utilization of the remaining funds to promote competitive salaries and benefits in conjunction with the district's strategic priority targeted at attracting and retaining talented staff."

The district also proposed to more than double the general fund transfer to support food services. The additional amount is needed in part to cover increased costs associated with the federal Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act, and to increase pay for cafeteria workers, Pelland said.

The district is also prepared to implement a school lunch program at Glenwood Springs High School next year, which that school has not had since the new school building opened in 2007. The additional high school meal program is expected to cost $20,000.

The 2016-17 budget will also reflect spending from the recent voter-approved $122 million bond issue for school facilities throughout the district, including two major school projects in Glenwood Springs.