Eagle County Schools see funding increase
Ryan Summerlin June 15, 2014
After years of budget cuts, next year the school district will have an additional $2.8 million in its general fund, the checking account through which it conducts its day-to-day business.
That $2.8 million will be spent like this:
Increased PERA payments, $350,000. PERA is the public employees’ retirement fund
Increased healthcare insurance costs, $350,000.
3 percent cost of living raise for employees, plus 1 percent performance bonuses, $800,000.
Reducing class sizes by hiring more teachers, $800,000. That money went straight to the principals, who used it to hire teachers.
2 buses, $150,000 each.
Deferred maintenance on roofs, buildings and other facilities, $480,000
Technology, including new computers and other gear, $720,000. They’re not getting a tech director, repairing asphalt, buying Eye-Ride bus passes or buying a refrigerator truck.
Instead of increasing their general find reserve, they’re spending that additional money on more teachers.
Total increase: $2,852,000
EAGLE — The school district’s budget will grow by $2.8 million next year, and most of the money will be spent on personnel and maintenance.
The school board approved the 2014-15 budget that includes more money in the general fund, hard-won funding from battles with state lawmakers who had no initial plans to increase education funding at all.
“I feel positive about the package we’ve been able to put together, reflecting the needs and priorities the community has put forward,” said Jason Glass, Superintendent of Eagle County schools.
The budget approval was also remarkably quiet. In three public hearings, no one showed up to comment or question anything about next year’s spending package.
That’s a far cry from the upheaval the school board lived through a few years in a row when state lawmakers slashed education funding. Eagle County’s school district was forced to cut $9 million and shed 90 jobs — a 22 percent hit to its general fund, which is the checkbook by which the school district conducts its day-to-day business.
Headed in Right Direction
“It isn’t back to where we were pre-recession, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Glass said.
The general fund will increase to $61 million next year, up from around $58 million, while the total school district budget is $96,725,850. The $35.7 million difference between the general fund and the total budget is in dedicated funds and the school district can’t touch them, Glass explained.
Among those dedicated funds is a $13.5 million in bond payments.
Operating money comes from the general fund and the capital reserve fund.
This year’s general fund is $61 million total — $58 million from the state legislature and $3 million from other sources.
The capital reserve fund is used for building things, maintaining things, technology, remodeling and buying equipment.
Because the general fund has $1.1 million more than is required in its savings account, the school board gave the green light to transfer $2 million from the general fund into the capital fund, to begin catching up on maintenance that was postponed for years when the recession hit.
“We were able to have an impact on some of these areas through this budget,” Glass said.