Student population grows, state funding matches
By Aimee Eaton
The first draft of the Gunnison Watershed School District RE1J 2017-18 budget is out and the numbers point to a robust fiscal climate.
State funding will increase about $700,000 over the 2016-2017 school year, going up to $15 million from $14.3 million, due largely to increases in the student population and the per pupil revenue (PPR) amount offered by the state. The PPR rose to $7,599, up from $7,369, and the counted students within the district is forecasted to increase to 1,979, up from 1,947.
In addition to state funding, the district will receive money from local, intermediate and federal sources. When combined, those dollars should add up to just about $22 million.
“It’s a really solid budget and we’ve done a lot to make sure it’s healthy,” said district superintendent Doug Tredway. “We’ve been carefully looking at the four-year forecast and we’re trying to be poised to manage the difficult years that may be coming. We’re concentrating on taking care of people and meeting our needs and obligations.”
A significant factor in the health of the budget has been the presence of revenue from Fund 26, the mill levy override bill passed by voters in 2015, said Tredway.
“Fund 26 has cushioned us,” he said. “We’ve been able to bring back and sustain programs that without funding from the mill levy we would have been cutting. It’s given us stability.”
On the spending side of the budget, the district’s anticipated expenses, including reserves, punch in at just about $21 million. A fair amount of that expense is new this year as payouts from the general fund are expected to increase by about $800,000.
“Half of our increase in expenses to the general fund is due to increases in enrollment,” said district business manager Stephanie Juneau.
Specific cost increases to the fund come from the addition of 5.35 full-time employees for instructional staff, including two teachers at the Crested Butte Community School Elementary School and a .85 position for art and Spanish at the CBCS high school; increases in salaries and mandatory contributions to retirement, including a 2.6 percent increase in wages for all teachers, classified staff and administrators; and the reassignment of certain positions out of Fund 26 and into the general fund.
“The net effect is that general fund revenues are budgeted to exceed general expenses by $59,980 in Fiscal Year 2017-18,” Juneau said.
“It’s a hard thing to judge, but I believe we’re in the top third of districts in the state in terms of fiscal security,” added Tredway.
A detailed copy of the draft 2017-2018 budget, including line-by-line expenses and sources of revenue, is available on the school district’s website at www.gunnisonschools.net.
A public hearing to discuss the budget will be held on June 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lake School in Gunnison.