Staff, parents offer input on school budget

School district uses survey results to determine needs, wants

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Everyone has an opinion on how the local school district should spend money.

As the Moffat County School District heads into its budget planning for the 2004-05 school year, local school board members took a first glance during their board meeting Thursday night at programs school staff and parents consider worthy of funding.

Under the headings "increase," "maintain" or "reduce" funding, roughly 120 parents and staff weighed in on the district's education programs and district's use of funds.

The survey showed overwhelming support, or 92 votes, to maintain funding for the district's English Language Learners program. The report also indicated a strong desire to see more funding for the district's Gifted and Talented student population, with 83 votes to maintain funding and 32 votes to increase funding.

In another example, the majority of respondents said they'd like the district to maintain or reduce funding for using data to analyze assessments to improve student achievement. Sixty-three people voted for the district to maintain funding and 58 people said the district should reduce funding.

Superintendent Pete Bergmann said the report should be used as an indicator to the Moffat County School District Board of Education as it heads into its budget planning for next year.

A high concentration of numbers leaning toward one end of the spectrum helps district officials formulate a spending plan, he said.

"To me this is very interesting because each of these reports were done in isolation," Bergmann said.

The surveys were completed among staff at each district school, district administration and members of various Parent Accountability Committees or PACs.

Other highlights of the report showed a strong interest in attracting and retaining highly qualified staff. Sixty-eight respondents said the district should increase personnel funding and 57 said the district should maintain its current staff funding.

"Regardless of what this tells us, we have to pay attention to it," Bergmann said of the reports.

Board members also received an overview of the district's revenue projections.

Bergmann made the board aware of potential roadblocks to a healthy financial picture if the district continues spending down its general fund.

The district operates on a general fund of roughly $6.5 million, but if the current level of spending continues, it will reduce the general fund to $2.8 million by the year 2008, according to district figures.

Bergmann said the district needs at least $3.5 million in its general fund to operate for three months.

"The question for you to consider as a board is whether you would like to continue to operate without taking out a loan from the state," he said.

Though not presented as a proposal, Bergmann introduced two options of a mill levy override and/or a bond mill levy that would have to go for voter approval in the future. A bond mill levy is used for capital improvements. School board members could ask for up to $500,000 in a mill levy override that would divert a portion of all current mill levy taxes into district coffers.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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