Tight budget stretches staff at New Castle schools | PostIndependent.com

Tight budget stretches staff at New Castle schools

John GardnerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

NEW CASTLE Parents have voiced concerns about several shared staff positions between two elementary schools in New Castle for the 2008-09 school year.Six positions will be shared between Kathryn Senor Elementary and the new Elk Creek Elementary, which is currently Riverside Middle School.We never indicated that we wouldnt have to split these positions, said Garfield School District Re-2 Superintendent Gary Pack. We anticipated that we may have to do that, but we also added some full-time positions at both schools as well.The positions affected will be what the district deems special positions: one music teacher, one physical education teacher, one guidance councilor, one health clerk and two para positions including the librarian. Each of the positions will split time between the two facilities as needed. The actual scheduling is yet to be determined and is up to the schools administration and teachers, Pack said.Its a lot to ask, but they are doing the best they can for the children, Pack said. Its no less time for the students.Its the staff that is making the commitment. They are working on the scheduling now, and they have the staffing to make it happen.Scheduling could consist of alternating days between facilities, giving Monday, Wednesday and Friday at one school and Tuesday and Thursday at the other. Then teachers would switch schedules to three days at the other school for the alternating week.Its really no different than having a teacher at Coal Ridge teaching a history class in one room and then having to go down the hall to another room for another class, Pack said.The shared positions are attributed to a lack of funding from the state for the 2008-09 budget, according to Pack. Re-2 administration expected legislators to pass a 2.7 percent inflation rate increase for school districts regarding next years budget, but instead only received a 2.2 percent rate increase. That cut the districts budget by a significant amount, Pack said.When planning for the coming years budget in September 2007, Re-2 administration based growth projections on the same 5.5 percent rate they witnessed during the 2006-07 school year. However, the 2007-08 school year has yielded only a 4 percent growth rate, Pack said, leaving the district with a 1.5 percent deficit they have to account for in the following school years budget.That amount rolls into next years budget that we have to cover, Pack said. We have to cover that deficit, and we start that much down.Re-2 already received money and filled positions at some of the schools with the most need and growth, like the schools in New Castle, while other schools in the district had to cut some positions. Rifle High School cut four positions for next year. Wamsley and Highland Elementary Schools in Rifle will also see some growth without the addition of any new positions, Pack said.Overall, next years budget will have a $400,000 gap that Re-2 will need to absorb districtwide.The whole district has had to absorb the lack of funding to get back to where we need to be, Pack said. You have to look at the budget as a whole and we are doing our best to estimate what the growth in the area is going to be.Re-2 administration expects these shared positions to last only the one school year, and Pack hopes to be able to make each of the positions full-time spots by the following year.The most important thing is that the students are going to be well served, Pack said. We would have looked at it differently if we received more funding from the state, but you have to try to be equitable throughout the entire district, and we believe weve done that.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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