Schools benefit from community partnerships
Community partnerships support community schools. Last week was a great example of the great support that the communities of New Castle, Silt and Rifle provide to the children and staff of our schools.
Columbine Ford hosted the first-ever CARnival for Wamsley Elementary. It was a fantastic event loaded with food and fun to celebrate the artistic endeavors of our WES students. The car dealership was plastered with Wamsley student art.
Sunlight Mountain Resort hosted the annual Riverside Middle School eighth-grade bobsledders. Eighth-grade students take part in an integrated unit including English language arts, social studies and math to research their country, write about their country and construct a bobsled. Students then get to test their creations at Sunlight Mountain.
Coal Ridge High School and Riverside Middle School were the recipients of much and continued community support with their production of “Once Upon a Mattress” last weekend.
It is with much gratitude and thanks that the Garfield School District Re-2 embraces your participation and assistance with our programs. It is with community partners like this that we can create great future leaders of our communities.
Every two-to-three years, when Garfield Re-2 adopts our calendar, we provide draft calendars to our staff and community to provide feedback on. As part of this year’s process, Garfield Re-2 received nearly 1,000 comments in total. Calendars will be presented to the school board for approval at the Tuesday, March 17, school board meeting at Kathryn Senor Elementary.
Collaborative Solutions is the negotiating arm of Garfield School District Re-2 and is composed of administrators, teachers and classified staff including secretaries, custodians, nutrition services workers and bus drivers. Collaborative Solutions looks at all interests involved in developing a calendar with an emphasis on supporting student achievement, and this includes calendar development and recommendation. This group read and weighed each and every comment submitted as part of the process.
As part of the survey comments, several people asked why returning to a five-day a week school calendar was not provided as an option. The short answer is that at the moment, for Re-2, returning to a five-day school week is not an option that can be addressed through a calendar. It is a decision that is driven by the budget.
Three years ago, the school board was faced with very difficult decisions concerning the budget. There were many options on the table including the closing of schools. In November 2011, the voters of Garfield Re-2 voted down a mill-levy override to help fund our schools, and the school board was faced with reducing the budget by nearly $2 million.
Both the staff and community submitted ideas for cutting the budget. Using a rubric that included legal requirements, alignment with the school board’s stated goals, impacts to students and impacts to staff, over 70 individual ideas or themes were evaluated by the Garfield Re-2 principals and administrators.
After this comprehensive evaluation of budget cutting options, the following recommendations were made to the school board:
• Turning off cooling in the gyms — savings $100,000
• Eliminating Garfield Re-2 after school programs — savings $65,000
• Renegotiating contracts for security officers — savings $138,000
• Eliminating the recycling program — savings $16,000
• Reducing assessment coordinator positions — savings $15,000
• Move to a four-day school week — savings $500,000
• Eliminate sliding scale for sports — savings $20,000
• Implement early retirement incentive — savings $200,000
• Reductions for schools and departments — savings $535,220
• Reduction of maintenance budget — savings $60,000
• District office additional 7.1% reduction — savings $107,889
• For a total reduction of — $1,757,109
The $1.7 million in savings is equivalent to about 35 full-time teaching positions (at an average of $50,000 for salary and benefits). The Garfield Re-2 Finance Department looked at the actual savings realized due to the implementation of the four-day school week. For 2012-2013 the district saved $480,000. This is an ongoing, annual savings.
In addition to the budget cuts implemented for the ’12-’13 school year, Garfield Re-2 has been deficit spending, or spending more money than we have coming in. The budgeted deficit for this year is $907,912, with a planned deficit for ’15-’16 of more than $1 million.
Just as you cannot continually spend out of your savings account, Garfield Re-2 will eventually run out of fund balance to spend. This is not a practice that can continue indefinitely. Garfield Re-2 Superintendent Dr. Susan Birdsey continues to work with Colorado’s superintendents and legislators to find ways to improve education funding. Potential tax refunds required by the Tax Payer Bill of Rights (TABOR) will create even more challenges to funding in the coming years. As a district, we look for ways to support our building and academic needs through grants, gifts and donations. The cost savings realized from transitioning to the four-day school week is an integral component to maintaining community schools and lower class sizes.
We appreciate everyone that participated in the calendar survey and the calendar process. The calendar recommendations to the school board will continue to include a four-day school week until we can find a solution to education funding.
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