Budget cuts, calendar at issue

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If you go

What: School District Accountability Committee meeting

When: 6 p.m. tonight

Where: Yampa Building, 775 Yampa Ave.

The meeting is open to the public. For more information, call 824-3268.

At its monthly meeting tonight, the Moffat County School District Accountability Committee will be looking for parent and community feedback on two current issues that will affect the 2010-11 school year and beyond.

The committee, which meets at 6 p.m. at the district administration building, 775 Yampa Ave., will discuss the upcoming school calendar and begin circulating information on proposed budget cuts for next year.

The committee includes parents, community members and superintendent Joe Petrone.

The calendar, which was changed three years ago to accommodate school construction in the summers, is up for review this year.

The proposed changes, which include a longer school year, slightly shorter days and a later spring break, will be voted on at the Feb. 25 School Board meeting.

Petrone said the district is looking for final input on the current proposed calendar, which is available for viewing at craigdailypress.com.

The proposed calendar also includes collaboration time for teachers twice a month, which would result in early release every other Monday.

After the calendar discussion, the district will release to the public a first draft of proposed budget cuts.

Due to a 7.75 percent decrease in state funding and increased expenses, the school district needs to cut at least $1.2 million from its $20 million budget.

About $800,000 more in cuts are possible because of rising insurance premiums and payouts for Public Employee Retirement Association benefits for teachers.

The district is in the process of bidding out the insurance contract to try and keep the cost increase to a minimum.

Still, cuts could amount to $2 million, or 10 percent of the total budget.

Petrone said he wants to include parents, teachers and community members in the discussions that will ultimately lead to a final, balanced budget by June.

Comments

John Kinkaid 4 years, 10 months ago

How do you say stupid in a nice way? Ill thought out? Trying to stay afloat financially, and someone comes up with a schedule that does not lower costs. My guess is this schedule will actually drive up overhead costs. More electricity usage. More bus usage and fuel usage. Voters should be up in arms. Sports drive the decision making and not clear headed practicality? People cannot let this fly.

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Anitadunnce 4 years, 10 months ago

jasonbourne, I understand your frustration, and no, so-called "solutions" that are not solutions at all should not be allowed to fly.

Everyone in town should start to brainstorm (put on a pot of coffee, bake some brownies, and invite 6 friends over to toss out ideas, and ask someone to take notes on your discussion), and to organize those thoughts into a cohesive, organized plan to submit to the District. Perhaps you could also submit your suggestions to a thread in the Daily Press in order to encourage others to respond.

Think about which teachers should be cut; which classes should be cut; which administrators in a top-heavy school should be cut so that the remaining ones will be forced to actually do their jobs, rather than stay on as high-priced fluff; which classes should become after-school extracurricular activities, and whether parent-volunteers can run any of those.

After you do your chopping and slicing, look at old MCSD Board minutes in order to estimate how much the annual salary is for each personnel you believe can be cut, total those salaries, and add people back and subtract them again, until you have cut the required number of dollars from next year's budget. To get more accurate numbers, contact District Administration to find out exactly what a teacher earns if you want that teacher's neck on the chopping block.

Don't forget to calculate in personnel who are slated to retire this spring. One Art position is being advertised already, and another should come open. If you think that Art should be cut entirely from the curriculum, then say so. It's okay if others don't agree with you; every one of you still should brainstorm for solutions to the budget shortfall problem.

In your brainstorming, you may decide not to replace retiring folks at all. Maybe in some of the content areas, there are way too many choices, i.e. classes offered for which only 5-10 students will sign up. During your brainstorming session, set the minimum limit that you want to see in a class, i.e. the class will not be offered if fewer than 22 students sign up for it, for example.

It is apparent that the District cannot do this cutting without the community's input, so people need to come through and demand the changes they want to see.

Good luck. I will be working with my own small group as we try to get a plan put together and down on paper.

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John Kinkaid 4 years, 10 months ago

You have some good ideas.

Administrators will try and marginalize you and your ideas. They will say, "We can't do that." We are the experts and you are not. You'll have to have everyone in your group personally call school board members. And then follow up and keep the pressure on. Be vocal, civil and adamant. Stand your ground.

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Anitadunnce 4 years, 10 months ago

jasonbourne, thank you. You are right about needing to continue to press the points, put on the pressure. That is one reason that I suggested that people might want to publish those letters right here in the Daily Press online. Debate might be stirred up that way, and the School Board members also would read the ideas in case the suggestions never made it to formal letters mailed out.

The other reason that I suggested publishing the suggestion letters here online is that some groups will not come up with many ideas. They may not be as innovative, or their group may not contain educators/former educators. If the suggestions are published, it might help those groups with ideas. They may say, "Hey, that one sounds good. Let's put that idea in our letter, too." As they talk, more ideas then will occur to them.

This is such a serious matter. I have a feeling that no one at the top levels is willing to do the hard lifting, i.e. that some are hoping that if they stall and do nothing, Obama will borrow another $2 Trillion from China so that all the schools have the additional money, and everyone can forget that by that time it will be their great-grandchildren who are impacted by the debt.

Obama has shown NO NO NO leadership in tightening his belt, trimming the budget. He is such a poor example to the American people as he is motivated to include abortion-on-demand in his own healthcare plan proposal, and he desires to provide medical and educational services to all $40M-plus illegals from Mexico and Guatemala. He deludes himself that people who sneak into our country under cover of darkness with the intent to steal from us will ever make responsible, employed, tax-paying, US flag-pledging, English-speaking brand-new American citizens. T'ain't gonna happen. Illegals can't get there from here.

But hey, let's make our educational system great, so that the illegals can get the best "free" education possible, while they use WalMart's banking services to send their dollars back to Mexico. If our government does not expect them to contribute, then why should they spend any of their money here in the country from which they stole it?

The heck with the American children and babies who go to bed cold and hungry at night, with inadequate winter coats and leaky boots and shoes that pinch because they were purchased new for another child......... and let's keep those "free" breakfasts and lunches coming for the illegal alien population. Bill Clinton started the mandate which requires that "free" education is provided for all who sneak in through our borders, no questions asked. As long as Obama has served the illegal population well, he is one satisfied guy...... and Obama is happy to forget about our American children who are in poverty in huge numbers. Just remind me again: who elected this guy, anyway??

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John Kinkaid 4 years, 10 months ago

The 2011/'12 budget should be even bleaker. The economy is not going to recover. It's going to get worse.

In order to generate some discussion, here are some hot topics that have potential to save money in the $2 million range.

  1. Have school in warm months, when you don't have heating costs.
  2. Let retirement and attrition play out.
  3. Increase class sizes. As noted above, don't have classes without meeting enrollment minimums.
  4. Cut the buses.
  5. Have intramural sports.
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dogfan 4 years, 10 months ago

Cutting administration would be a good place to start. Why do we need two assistant principals at the high school? Why do we need an assistant at the middle school? Because the principals cannot handle it? If they can't, get rid of them and get somebody who can.

Charge more to participate in athletics. The kids that I have seen involved sports can afford to pay a little more if they want to play. I don't want to see athletics go away, but I don't want our childrens education suffer either.

I agree with cutting classes if they don't meet an enrollment guide line. Make the kids take a different class if they don't get enough students enrolled in it.

Maybe this country should get together and do a big fund raising campaign for education like they did for Haiti. Don't get me wrong I think it was great how much they raised, but what about our kids. Maybe we should worry about people here in our own country first. How many homeless families with children live here in the United States? Seems to me we should worry about our own country first.

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George Robertson 4 years, 10 months ago

Imagine how much more could be accomplished if they were the right kind of brownies.

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