Funding flat, enrollment up slightly in local schools
2015-16 Eagle County school district budget
General Fund Highlights
$64,7707,690 million: Total general fund. That’s up $9,364 from $64,698,326 in 2014-15.
$851,050: Fund balance for one-time expenses
$1.75 million: Increase in starting salaries, cost of living adjustments and performance bonuses.
$950,000: Increases in health insurance costs and employer-paid PERA increases
$600,000: 9.5 new full-time positions to reduce class size
$450,000: 6.67 new full-time positions to accommodate growth in student enrollment, 109 new students
$10.7 million: Total general fund reserves
$851,050: The amount to be taken from reserves to cover increasing expenses. Of that, $700,000 is supported by the transfer from closing the Employee Benefit Trust Fund
$2.14 million: Included in the reserves as a TABOR requirement
Per Pupil Funding
$7,575.71: The amount Colorado’s funding formula allocates for each student. It should be $1,075.06 more. That’s the amount at which Colorado’s Constitution says students should be funded, if all the amendments and provisions were strictly followed. That $1,075.06 is referred to as the “negative factor.”
$94.8 million: Total budget. That includes things like bond payments, transportation funding, and capital projects.
School funding is up slightly next year, and so is the number of blessings from heaven who attend classes.
However, also up are the school district’s health care costs, and the district’s share of the state-mandated retirement fund.
The school board has approved the 2015-16 budget, implementing its plan to reduce class sizes and increase pay, especially starting pay.
Perspective along with prices
Along with the hard numbers, Sandy Mutchler, the Eagle County district’s chief financial officer, provided a little perspective in her budget presentation last week.
You might think that Eagle County students are mostly affluent because of our proximity to Vail and Beaver Creek.
You would be incorrect.
Right now, 42.2 percent of Eagle County school district students qualify for free and reduced lunch — the criteria state and federal agencies use when determining if a student is “at-risk.”
Almost one-third of Eagle County’s public school students are English language learners, compared to 14 percent statewide.
“We are uniquely positioned to evolve into a dual language district with bilingual graduates,” Mutchler said.
In fact, beginning next year, high school graduates who are proficient in more than one language will be designated as multi-lingual on their diplomas.
About the budget
The general fund will be $64.7 million, up $2.6 million from this year. The general fund is the checkbook with which the school district conducts its day-to-day business.
The total budget is $94.8 million. That includes things like bond payments ($14 million), capital funds ($2.1 million) and transportation ($2.6 million). It also includes $3.7 million for the Eagle County Charter Academy, which falls under the school district’s umbrella. Stone Creek Charter School is independent and gets its funding separately from the school district.
If all goes as planned, they’ll have $10.7 million left in their general fund reserve at the end of the fiscal year.
Education is a labor-intensive business and almost 80 percent of the school district’s general fund is spent on salaries and benefits. The school district employs 850 people full-time.
Student enrollment is projected to increase 109 from last year, based on indicators such as kindergarten enrollment.
Under Colorado’s education funding formula, Eagle County schools get $7,575.71 per student, up from $7,301.29 for 2014-15, an increase of $274.42.
Between increased state funding and more students, the school district will have $2.6 million more next year than this year.
Health care and PERA costs will cost 10 percent more.
They’ll add 9.5 full-time teachers through an at-risk program and reduce class sizes.
They’ll add another 6.67 full-time positions to accommodate increasing enrollment. The school board mandated the decrease earlier this year.
The base salary for new hires will increase 2.5 percent, and performance bonuses will be paid at 1 percent of an employee’s salary. Those bonuses are paid in September.
The staffing goals run one full-time teacher for 15 students in elementary schools, and one teacher for 16.5 middle and high school students.
Those staffing allocations don’t always reflect actual classroom sizes, Mutchler explained, which tend to be in the low 20s for elementary schools, and the mid- to upper-20s for middle schools and high schools.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.