School district considers teacher cuts
EAGLE, Colorado – The school district has more teachers than student numbers can support, and that’s where more than half the 40 jobs cuts will come, district officials said Monday.
Right now, the school district has 550 teachers. Student numbers will support 23 fewer than that. The reduction is called “right-sizing,” said Brian Childress, Eagle County school district human resources director.
Another seven will be cut because of the economy, Childress said.
The other 10 cuts will come from the district offices, Childress said.
“We’re working hard to keep the cuts out of the classroom,” Childress said Monday.
The school district is trying to bridge a $6.5 million state funding shortfall, stemming from Colorado’s own $1 billion budget shortfall.
To get there, the school district is considering cutting 40 positions ($2.5 million, an average of $63,750 per job). The school district has 760.77 full-time positions, including those 550 teachers, according to its 2010-11 budget.
The schools have 5,919 students, according to Monday’s count.
Another $1 million would come from across-the-board salary cuts, comprised of unpaid time off – or furlough days. In previous budget discussions, the school board has considered eliminating teacher work days as part of those proposed cuts, but everyone will take some furlough time and the salary cut that goes with it, Childress said.
Departments will have to come up with another $1.5 million in spending cuts to help make ends meet.
Beyond that, the school will dip into its $12 million reserves for $1.5 million, covering the rest of the $6.5 million.
Those and other budget cutting options will be discussed Wednesday morning when the school board convenes for a special meeting. The board will meet in private beginning at 8:30 a.m., and in public beginning at 9:30 a.m.
“The purpose of the meeting is for the board to discuss certain items in the budget in further detail,” said Brooke Macke, school district communications director.
The school board will not be voting on anything Wednesday, Macke said.
“These are purely informational items and not action items. They have been discussing this in regular sessions for the past several weeks and will devote more meetings to discussing the budget in the future,” Macke said.
The board is scheduled to vote on the budget in June.
The school board has discussed asking Eagle County voters for a tax increase. A final decision on that won’t have to be made until August, the deadline to put a measure on the November ballot.
Superintendent Dr. Sandra Smyser says 80 percent of the school district’s budget is spent on personnel.
Schools are funded through a combination of property taxes, vehicle taxes and state funding, says Macke.
In previous downturns, Colorado’s state lawmakers have made up the difference when school districts saw their tax revenues drop.
That won’t happen this year, says Eric Brown, press secretary for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. While recent state budget projections have been slightly less dire, the state still faces its own $1 billion shortfall.
“Everyone’s feeling the effects of this budget,” Brown said. “K-12 education makes up 42 percent of the state’s budget. When you’re looking at a billion dollar revenue shortfall, it’s not reasonable to think that some of those cuts won’t come from something that comprises almost half of the state’s budget.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.