The Moffat County School District Board of Education decided Tuesday to look at a 2-percent cut in expenditures for the 2007-08 budget.
The board gave administrators the nod to draft options for cuts to be presented at the March 29 board meeting.
"There has to be some changes," board President JoAnn Baxter said. "There's going to be some cuts."
As the lowest-funded district per pupil in the state, Moffat County administrators have been evaluating ways to cut expenditures and increase revenue.
"We're going to have to change the way we do business," Superintendent Pete Bergmann said. "We can't sustain the product we are delivering right now."
A 2-percent cut would equal a $360,000 reduction in expenditures in the district's current school year budget of $18 million.
Bergmann asked board members Tuesday to rate district offerings -- such as staff, transportation, extracurricular activities and elective courses -- based on how well they fit the district's vision.
"Where I want you to start -- and this has always guided our decisions -- is to look at our mission statement," Bergmann said.
The district's mission is to provide high student achievement for all students in a safe, quality, learning environment.
"I want us to come back to our mission and decide what's closest to the core," Bergmann said.
The board also will seek input from staff members, administrators and Parent Advisory Committees as the budget process progresses.
"The budget keeps getting fine tuned as we get more and more into it," Bergmann said.
The process should be wrapped up by the June board meeting, he said.
Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan said the board keeps the budget loose so grants and legislative decisions that are made in March and April can be calculated into the district's budget process.
State Rep. Al White currently is working with the Senate education committee to introduce a proposal for the bottom 10 percent of Colorado districts to receive a certain percentage of the state's average district funding.
District officials were slated to testify on the matter Wednesday, but the committee decided to wait until a later date to address the School Finance Act.
If the proposal passes, the district could receive the percentage proposed or any percentage up to that number. The Legislature's decision will affect the board's budget decisions.
But as the budget process continues, Ridgeview Elementary School Principal Julie Baker expressed concern about the staff's morale.
Bergmann admitted eliminating positions is a possibility, considering 86 percent of the budget is allocated for salaries and benefits.
However, Sheridan said if staff cuts are necessary, he suspects the district's eight to 10 retirements a year would account for about half of those cuts.
"We are doing everything we can to change the law that will give us more money first and foremost," Bergmann said. But, in the meantime, "We have to trim our expenditures. Right now, we're in the first stages of identifying what's farthest away from our core visions to consider for reductions."