Briefs, School

CBCS gets awards from state
Crested Butte middle and high schools, along with the Marble Charter School, were selected by the Colorado Department of Education as John Irwin Schools of Excellence for having some of the highest achievement levels on the annual statewide assessments.
The CDE also recognized Crested Butte middle and high schoolers for showing one of the highest rates of longitudinal growth (growth among age groups) in the state.


Budget holding steady, for now
The financial report from the last quarter of 2011 shows the Gunnison Watershed RE1J District revenues getting a boost from the state’s share of funding, to make up for a lower property tax collection coming in this spring.
“Our revenues are on track, as I would expect for this year. But you may notice compared to where we were last year we’re quite a bit ahead in revenues in the general fund,” district business manager Stephanie Juneau told the school board on Monday, February 13. “That’s because we’re receiving state share this year and not solely reliant on property tax as we were in the previous fiscal year. So our revenues are coming in incrementally every month, as opposed to all of it coming in with property taxes.”
At the same time, the district’s expenditures are a little higher than they were a year ago. Juneau said she expected higher costs for the special education department due to a new and necessary hire.
Additionally, the district is putting $100,000 into the food service program, which is less than the subsidy has been in the last several years.
“Hopefully, with the mild winter we’ve had, if that continues, some of our utilities should be under budget, as well as our snowplowing expenses,” Juneau said. “We never quite know those until a little bit later on, but that’s how I’m hoping things balance out.”

Future funding faces new perils
It’s no secret the Gunnison Watershed RE1J school district has gotten beaten up by state funding cuts. Over the last three years, more than $1 million has been stripped from the state’s share of the district’s budget. This year, thanks to some found money in the state capitol, the beating has subsided. But, according to Juneau, it could just be the eye of the storm.
Relaying what she had heard in a meeting with state officials, Juneau told the school board, “With flat enrollment, which is a fair place to start, we have about $200,000 less next year. Our per pupil revenue is going to go down from where it is right now.”
She said reimbursement for each student would drop from the current rate of about $6,200 to some number closer to what they consider “base level funding.”
And in the next few years, things are only going to get worse for Colorado school districts.
“Unless something amazing happens at the state level and they fix their structural revenue problem, it is likely that school district funding will be at its “base level” within three to four years. That seems to be the direction it’s going and there doesn’t seem to be a fix,” Juneau said.
She explained that for the local school district, that means there will likely be an additional $800,000 to $1 million cut from the state’s share of the budget, beyond the $200,000 cut coming next year.
“As you know we have cut a lot over the last several years, Juneau said, “so we’re getting to a very difficult place to find another $800,000 to $1 million. I just wanted you to think about the priorities we need to stay focused on and what are some things to chip away at or cut entirely, whatever the case may be. Another $1 million won’t be easy, based on where we’re at right now. Some serious changes will have to take place.” 

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