Parent survey seeks input on Re-2 cuts
RIFLE, Colorado – The Garfield School District Re-2 is taking an online public survey in an effort to gather input on what’s expected to be $2.5 million in budget cuts for Rifle, Silt and New Castle schools next year.
“Everything is on the table as far as cuts, and the school board is just beginning those conversations,” said Theresa Hamilton, Re-2 director of districtwide services.
The survey, which can be found at http://www.garfieldre2.k12.co.us/, asks parents and other community members to respond to a few basic questions about the upcoming budget decisions, including:
• What could or should be cut in the Garfield Re-2 budget?
• What do you not want to see eliminated from Re-2’s budget?
• What advice would you have on maintaining a positive culture and climate within the school district despite budget/financial reductions?
The level of anticipated cuts for Re-2 is the “worst-case scenario” in response to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s planned $332 million reduction in state funding for K-12 schools in the proposed 2011-12 state budget.
“We were quite shocked to get the news about the extent of the cuts this year,” said Christine Hamrick, Re-2 director of finance.
It means even more drastic cuts for Re-2 and other local school districts that had already made huge budget cuts this year. Re-2 cut $4.4 million, or 10 percent, from the current school year budget.
The district also based the current budget on a 2 percent reduction in student enrollment. But Re-2 actually saw a 1.5 percent increase in enrollment this year, which eased the budget hit some. Districts receive state school funding based on total pupil counts.
“The situation I find myself in now is trying to figure out what the bottom really is as far as the state funding,” Hamrick said. “We’re trying to be realistic in looking at what’s going to happen, but it’s somewhat unpredictable.”
Teachers and staff salaries account for more than 80 percent of the district’s $37.4 million general fund budget. Facing another $2.5 million in cuts is “going to hurt,” Hamrick said.
“We did a lot [this year] to trim areas that had a minimal impact – we feel – on our ability to provide the same services,” she said. The cuts for next year will undoubtedly be more noticeable, she said.
In addition to the online survey, there will be opportunities for public input on the budget at upcoming school board meetings. The current year budget is also available on the district website for public inspection.
(The Citizen Telegram editor John Gardner contributed to this report.)
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