School official testifies before Senate

Moffat County assistant superintendent speaks about funding

A Moffat County School District official testified in front of the Colorado Senate education committee Wednesday, explaining why the district -- the lowest funded per pupil in the state -- and others are in dire financial situations.

Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan, along with Widefield and Mesa County Valley school district superintendents and the chief financial officer from Academy School District 20, asked the committee to slow the rate of disparity between the state's lowest-funded districts and those receiving the average.

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"We told them how the disparity between the funding of the school districts continues to just widen, and it's widening at an ever-increasing rate," Sheridan said. "We will continue to get less and less; we just want that less and less to be smaller."

State Rep. Al White has been working with the Senate education committee to get the bill introduced. Sen. Sue Windels is sponsoring the bill, and Sen. Josh Penry is sponsoring an amendment to the bill.

"The bill in general only goes partway," Sheridan said. "Josh Penry's amendment will have it move much more in that direction. It will really pinpoint trying to slow the rate of disparity."

If the bill and amendment pass, Sheridan said Moffat County could see some progress in time for the 2007-08 school year, which he said is good news for a district that's been struggling.

The Moffat County Board of Education asked administrators at its Feb. 27 meeting to draft a proposal for a 2-percent cut in expenditures for next year's budget.

"We're going to have to change the way we do business," Superintendent Pete Bergmann said in February. "We can't sustain the product we are delivering right now."

Bergmann said administrators are looking first at how to change school finance laws.

But in the meantime, the board must start evaluating its budget process to accommodate for its financial strain.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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