April Rogers: Budget cuts strike again

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As a Student Council member, I find myself at all the school budget meetings. Of course I was sad to see our budget being slashed to pieces this year; we were suffering another nearly two million dollars in cuts out of our budget.

So, I started some investigating to see why so much money was being stripped from our school. What I stumbled across was a little confusing and even shocking. The first bit of information I found that surprised me is that out of over 73 school districts in Colorado, Moffat County ranks the absolute lowest in funding, tying with a handful of other Colorado districts, according to the Colorado.gov website. Last year, MCHS received $6,462.62 per pupil. Some districts, such as Hindsdale received as much as $13,909.97 per pupil. In Moffat County last year, about 2,267 pupils were funded. Last year Kiowa, which funded only 78 students district wide, received $12,927.69 per pupil. And this was only one of the many schools with much fewer students who were funded much more. I questioned why Moffat County was the lowest funded school district. Our school was average in test scoring, our property tax revenues were relatively low and we certainty had more students than at least half the other school districts in Colorado. The answer I found was simply unfair. We, as the school district, are "rated" on how much funding we deserve from the state by what surrounds us. So, because we have a mine, power plant and other large corporations, the state assumes we will have more money throughout our community to support our educational areas. In fact, because Moffat County was hit so hard by the recession, our state funding is decreasing.

At home I looked at some of the Colorado budgetary websites that were blocked on school servers, and I found that according to many internet websites, 10% is the average amount schools keep in the rainy day funds" or reserves during these difficult economical times. Well, our district is not part of this common percentage. Moffat County had over 35% of our budget in reserve by the June audit. Over 35% of our ENTIRE budget is being put away and untouched. This comes to an estimated seven million dollars we cannot use. Call me crazy, but we are in a recession, and last time I checked, that is why we have a reserve... to help us through difficult times! Now I understand conserving, and keeping money in our fund is a good idea but 35% when we are suffering so many cuts already is over-kill. I was again confused while looking through the budget when I compared last year's budget to next year's projected budget. Our per pupil funding was $6,462.62 yet our projected budget this year was created from a $7,000 per pupil funding base. This makes no sense to me, because we knew our budget was going to decrease again this year so why was our 2011-2012 projected per pupil funding based higher than our last year per pupil funding? Could it be because we are putting more money in our reserve? Whatever the reason, it makes no sense to me. As students who have to face these cuts, we should learn to stand up for ourselves and make sure our opinion is heard. To any student who sincerely cares about their education, I strongly suggest going to the student budget meeting on April 25th after school in room 304.

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