Federal funds finally arrive
After a long wait, the Gunnison Watershed School District is set to receive a $350,000 payment in lieu of taxes money from the federal government. The payout for untaxable federal lands area is split between Gunnison County and the schools.
District business manager Stephanie Juneau told the board the money “was promised by the federal government but we hadn’t seen it yet, so we were getting a little nervous.”
Revenue up, costs up
Juneau offered an update on the district’s budget situation after the state legislature finalized a few funding details. Per pupil revenue, which reimburses the district for each full-time student, is up almost 6 percent, to $6,990. At the same time, the district readjusted its enrollment projection for next year, accounting for a number of students leaving to attend an online high school, holding enrollment flat instead of the previously anticipated increase.
Juneau also said the state agreed to reduce its infamous “negative factor,” the tool that’s been used to strip funding from schools over the past five years, by $110 million, to a statewide reduction in funding of $890 million. “It’s not enough, but it’s helpful,” Juneau said. “I wouldn’t expect them to decrease the negative factor over time.”
With all of the adjustments, Juneau said, the district would still need to dip into its general fund reserves for about $100,000 to cover costs next year. The district budgeted to use $227,000 of its reserves this year and needed only about $125,000, Juneau said.
Contract negotiations a success
Teachers and the school board have ratified the district employees’ contract for the upcoming school year. Superintendent Doug Tredway told the board the negotiating teams tackled some tough topics but came out with a strong agreement.
The new contract includes a revised and updated salary schedule that makes employee pay more predictable and transparent. To fit all staff into the new schedule without costing any employee money, staff, on average, received a 3.2 percent increase in pay. Still, Juneau said, the schedule fit within the budget.
The contract was ratified overwhelmingly by the teachers in a vote of 77 to 3, and unanimously by the school board.