Summit County school district to ax 32 positions
Summit County Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
FRISCO, Colorado ” The Summit County School District plans to cut $2 million and 32 positions without laying off teachers for its 2008-09 budget.
Among the reductions, the district slashed by 22 percent the number of paraprofessional teaching assistants, many of whom help with English-language learners and special-education students.
“Not only does it leave those students kind of afloat, but it means that the teachers need to take on those responsibilities for those with special needs ” and that draws their attention from class,” said school-board secretary Erin Major, who called the paraprofessional cuts the most dramatic.
Reductions also will affect academic intervention, gifted programs and extracurricular activities.
Since spring 2007, the district has aimed for independence from a mill levy that supported as many as 44 positions.
The schools each reviewed expenditures, took public input and proposed reductions averaging 6.4 percent. These were combined with cuts in district-wide programs, maintenance and central-office costs to meet an operating budget of $30.7 million for next year.
“The previous budget wasn’t efficient, wasn’t responsible,” said board member Erin Young. “There would be nothing for (several) teacher salaries if the mill levy was not approved.”
Teacher layoffs were avoided through attrition and transfers among grades, said Superintendent Millie Hamner.
“Budget reduction is never a pretty process,” she said. “We’ve all had to tighten our belts.”
Voters first approved the three-year Special Building, Maintenance and Technology Fund in 2001, and renewed it most recently in 2007. By 2004, though, the fund was re-directed to support salaries of staff members.
Board vice president Jon Kreamelmeyer said it became necessary for the district to “wean itself” from depending on the building and maintenance fund for teacher salaries.
“The suffering would have been much worse had we just done nothing,” he said.
Dawn Banas, the Summit High School Parent Teacher Student organization president, said the budget reductions at the high school will not have a “huge impact on our kids.”
“We will see slightly larger class sizes, but overall the budget cuts were done ” as far as it affects teachers in the classroom ” in a very sensitive manner,” she said.
Parent volunteers, she noted, already are handling unfulfilled duties at the front door of the high school.
Krista Miller, a parent, said at the district’s May 28 public hearing that she was concerned about the budget’s effect on the gifted program at Frisco Elementary School.
She was the only member of the public to comment in a room with many empty seats. By comparison, a crowd of parents, teachers and students flooded the board room at the May 14 vote to approve a turf field contribution of $150,000 from the building fund.
District president Christine Scanlan said people were indeed disappointed in the cuts.
“Folks would love to add to the gifted-and-talented program. Those things that I know were important to parents were hard,” she said.
In addition to the staff cuts, the district will raise some fees. School lunches will be increased 25 cents.
Participation in extracurricular activities at the middle school and high school also will cost more: SHS ice hockey will jump from $70 to $300 per student, and the speech-team fee will rise from $30 to $80. Most other activity fees were increased about $5.
Banas said scholarships are available for “anyone who truly wants to play sports and can’t.”
The district is expected to adopt the budget at its June 25 meeting.
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