Moffat County School District awaits funding decision

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Last month, Moffat County School District administrators learned of a new revenue stream from the federal government.

However, administrators are now worried state actions could negate those gains.

On Aug. 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Education Jobs Fund — a bill providing $10 billion in support of 160,000 education jobs nationwide.

Several Colorado school districts received money from the bill, including Moffat County, which was allocated $450,000.

However, the state, facing steep revenue shortfalls, might rescind $450,000 from its budget allocation to the school district this year, district finance director Mark Rydberg said.

Rydberg said the issue was discussed among colleagues from around the state during a financial policies and procedures meeting Friday in Longmont.

“Nothing’s official,” Rydberg said. “But, the state is hinting that they might take away the exact amount that the feds are going to allocate.”

The purpose of the Education Jobs Fund, according to the U.S. Department of Education, is to “save or create” education jobs for the current school year.

The school district used some of the federal funds to hire two new kindergarten teachers.

“We hired two teachers to deal with class sizes with the anticipation that we would be able to use that money,” Rydberg said.

The decision, Rydberg said, was “to do what’s right for the kids of Moffat County.”

If the state rescinds money from the school district’s budget, Rydberg said he would rearrange school expenses to help pay for the new teachers.

“It’s still a workable amount of money for us to deal with,” he said. “It might, at the end of the day, eat into our fund balance a little bit, and if it does, it will be an amount that we can probably absorb.”

Rydberg said the possible state rescission is a result of the economy.

“The summer didn’t turn out very well economically for the state,” Rydberg said. “And so, I think they’re going to wait until they have second quarter forecast numbers to see where they’re at.

“If things don’t turn around, I am fully expecting the rescission to equal the job bill amount.”

Rydberg said he doesn’t believe there’s impropriety in the timing or amount of the state’s projected rescission from the school district’s budget this year.

“They’re two separate deals,” he said. “The state can rescind any money they want.

“Let’s say they never passed the Ed Jobs bill. The state would be taking money away from K-12 because they don’t have the money.

“It just so happens that the federal government provided money specifically for education jobs. There is some coordination between the two, obviously, but I don’t think the state would be taking money away from us unless they had to.”

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