Moffat County School District's financial situation may not be in the crisis once thought, school officials told the Board of Education on Thursday evening.
Superintendent Pete Berg--mann and Director of Finance Mark Rydberg explained to the board that with the passage of the amended School Finance Act and projected mineral lease and specific ownership monies, the district is not in as bad of shape as they previously believed.
Bergmann recommended the board take its cuts and reductions for the 2007-08 budget down to $690,500.
"The good news is we will also be recommending that we will not be asking the community to support a mill levy override in the fall," Bergmann said. "We don't believe we need to ask the community to support the schools in our operations."
If the School Finance Act survives -- some opponents may proceed with a lawsuit challenging its Constitutionality -- the school district could end up with almost $700,000 in excess following the 07-08 school year with the current level of cuts and reductions.
Rydberg said the board can comfortably expect revenue to bring the budget to about $500,000 over expenditures. So he and Bergmann recommended adding back some of the initial budget cuts, including an aide at Craig Middle School, keeping class sizes small by replacing teachers lost to attrition and reinstituting teacher leader stipends and most of the extended contracts.
The budget plan now includes the board looking at $413,000 in cuts next year and $623,000 in two years, depending on the revenue at the time.
Bergmann said the change in the financial situation comes from looking at recent trends in revenue instead of a five-year average of past funds.
"We're switching gears philosophically on how we're going to budget our revenues," Bergmann said. "We knew it was going to be quite a paradigm shift for our board."
Board member Steve Hafey asked if reinstating assistant coaching positions could be included as an add-back. Bergmann said the coaches proposed taking a 10-percent reduction in pay for two years if allowed to fundraise to make up the difference. But the board needs to look at its current policy before deciding.
Even with fewer reductions, Bergmann said the district is still struggling to make revenues match expenditures.
"I don't want the board to have a false sense that we're out of the woods yet," Bergmann said.
The board hosts a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. June 7 to discuss the budget and meets in regular session June 28.
Board moves forward with bond issue
The School Board also agreed unanimously to proceed with a bond issue for facility upgrades Thursday night.
The board set a target of $28 million for RBC Dain Rauscher and Neenan Archistruction to build a new middle school for grades 6 to 8 and to renovate the district's other six buildings.
The companies presented a $29.9 million plan for doing that work Thursday and will progress with the collaborative design process in the coming weeks.
The plan includes tearing down Craig Middle School and transforming Craig Intermediate School and East, Ridgeview and Sunset elementary schools into preschool to fifth-grade buildings. Company representatives estimated the construction would take two years from election to completion.
The deferred maintenance needs total about the following for the district's facilities:
- Administrative building -- $580,000
- East -- $3,456,000
- Ridgeview -- $1,867,000
- Sunset -- $1,583,000
- CIS -- $2,086,000
- Moffat County High School -- $1,123,000
"The K-5 renovation is minimal if we do that," Bergmann said.
Repairing CMS totals about $8.9 million. Building a new facility is about $14.3 million. The difference is a $22.4 million bond or $29.8 million bond.
The board decided to target a $28 million bond, which accounts for about $2.5 million in revenue from interest and premiums.
Bergmann said that equals about a $55 a year increase for owners of a $150,000 home.
The superintendent also recommended to the board that they hire an owners representative to oversee construction operations for about $120,000.
The board will seek community input at design meetings the week of June 4.
In the meantime, the board is beginning to seek leaders for the election campaign and fundraising of about $10,000.