Roaring Fork Schools adopt ‘new normal’ budget for 2022-23 |

Roaring Fork Schools adopt ‘new normal’ budget for 2022-23

An increase in state per-pupil funding and the addition of a new charter school should help offset a pandemic-driven drop in enrollment for the Roaring Fork Schools, the district’s chief financial officer said.

The RFSD Board of Education on June 8 approved the 2022-23 school year budget, including an $82.6 million general fund revenue budget, which represents a 6.6% increase over 2021-22.

That increase mostly comes from an increase in per-pupil state funding from $9,410 to $10,000, plus the decision to bring the charter Two Rivers Community School, and its 391 students, into the district, CFO Nathan Markham said.

At the same time, the district lost about 350 students during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21, Markham said. 

That number adjusted to a loss of about 300 students from pre-pandemic enrollment levels this past school year, but a projected total enrollment for next year of around 5,800 students in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt district and charter schools appears to be the “new normal,” he said.

“The 2021-22 fiscal year was a near complete reversal from the previous year,” Markham wrote in his budget summary. “Revenues recovered to pre-pandemic levels, despite a lower district pupil count.”

In addition, district voters approved an additional mill levy override in November 2021 to help fund salary increases for teachers and noncertified district staff. Those increases, which exclude senior district leadership, are reflected in the new budget.

Some state/federal pandemic recovery funds are also still included in next year’s budget but with a caveat.

Mill levy override funds are projected to bring in $16.3 million next year.

“The district must remain diligent about its use of one-time funds and must avoid creating ongoing funding obligations that can’t be maintained by recurring revenues,” Markham said.

Total program funding in the new budget, not including wages and benefits, is $57.9 million, an increase of $6.3 million from this year.

Excluding the district’s two charter schools, Two Rivers and Carbondale Community Schools, that figure is $52.7 million for the elementary, middle and high schools that are under direct district oversight, according to the approved budget.

Salaries and benefits make up by far the largest district expense, at about $61.2 million, or 82% of the total general fund budget. All staff is budgeted to receive either a step or cost-of-living increase for next school year.

The cost of benefits is also going up, including a 3.5% health insurance increase and a 0.5% increase in retirement benefits paid by the district.

Discretionary budgets have also been adjusted for an additional 5% inflationary factor, including anticipated fuel, utility and supply cost increases, Markham also explained in his budget presentation.

Other budgeted increases include a large water rate hike in Glenwood Springs and the cost to run building HVAC systems 24 hours a day to meet air quality standards implemented during the pandemic. That has increased energy costs, Markham said.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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