Public input, transparency key to making school district budget cuts |

Public input, transparency key to making school district budget cuts

Re-2 News
Theresa Hamilton
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Theresa Hamilton

School districts around Colorado and the nation are bracing for the next round of budget cuts. The Garfield School District Re-2 is no different. Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced $375 million in cuts to education next year, cuts that will likely be felt in every classroom in the state.

Last year, Garfield Re-2 reduced its budget by $4.4 million or just over 10 percent. This year the district faces at least $2.5 million in additional cuts. Community feedback will be imperative in guiding the school board as they begin this daunting task.

The district wants to hear from staff, parents and community members about what they value in public education and what they see as things that the district might be able let go of – things that the community might be able to carry, or that are viewed as unnecessary.

On the Garfield Re-2 website at the community has access to all of our audits and budgets from the last several years. Find these items under both the “budget information” and “financial transparency” on the left rail. At the top of every Garfield Re-2 web page, there is a link to a form asking for feedback on the budget.

The school board is just beginning discussions for the 2011-12 budget. They are looking at all of the options. Everything is on the table.

The online form is one opportunity to participate.

As the board goes forward with budget discussions, other opportunities for community input will be available. Garfield Re-2 hopes that as many people as possible will share their concerns and provide their input. As the district goes through this process, transparency and communication will be a high priority.

Many comments and questions have already been submitted via the online form. A Frequently Asked Questions list is now online and will be updated as additional comments and feedback come in. Some examples include:

Can we eliminate the CSAP? Under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act and Colorado law, there must be an assessment to gauge students’ academic achievement. The CSAP is Colorado’s standards-based assessment and has been in place in Colorado since 1998. Schools are required to administer the test.

How much of the Garfield Re-2 budget is personnel? Around 80 percent of the Garfield Re-2 budget is personnel.

The timeline for adoption of the 2011-12 budget is swift. School districts operate on a fiscal calendar, so most of this work must be complete by the end of April. This ensures that final adjustments on the budget can be made, the staff and community can be made aware of the impacts before school is out in May, and the budget can be adopted in June.

Maybe your children have graduated, maybe you don’t have children, or maybe your children are in the school system now. Regardless, the state of the public education system impacts us all through our future business leaders, our future political leaders, and our future community leaders. Please take the opportunity to have your thoughts, your opinions and your values heard.

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