Moffat County School District board officials debate whether to spend reserves

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— Moffat County School Board members used a work session Thursday to try to get on the same page regarding the district’s budget and how money should be spent in the coming years.

Facing declining student enrollment, increasing recurring expenses and potential federal sequestration cuts, board members said they hope state Sen. Mike Johnston’s proposed school finance bill will help with the district’s funding crisis in the following years. However, board members also warned one another to be cautious and mindful of how they choose to spend money reserved in the district’s coffers.

The district must keep $700,000 in reserves according to state law, and then keep an equivalent of 30 percent of their annual budget for a “rainy day,” as directed by the board. That means the district has reserves of $6,583,338, and undesignated reserves of $351,659. Members debated the 30 percent “rainy day fund” during Thursday’s work session and went back and forth over what constituted a “rainy day.”

Although the board didn’t reach a conclusion on if or how much of the 30 percent reserve they would use, members did agree on priority items to include in the budget. Those priorities were broken down into curriculum and operations categories. The curriculum category, with priorities that came to $388,000, includes curriculum development, an upgrade in district wireless technology, an extended day program and staff for a preschool classroom.

Priorities under operations included business office software; removing electric tie-down lines and installing a new playground structure at the Early Childhood Center; replacing flooring at the early childhood center in East Elementary; improvements to concrete; replacing the underground electrical service at Sandrock Elementary; installing a hand-washing sink in the cafeteria at East Elementary; refurbishing student bathrooms at Sunset; encasing underground duct work in classrooms in East Elementary; top-dressing the damaged areas on the practice field and baseball field at Moffat County High School; and removing the Craig Middle School football bleachers.

The district also plans to replace a food delivery van, two ovens, one bus and two Suburbans. Those estimated costs of all operations priorities amount to $684,000.

The total estimated cost of all priority expenses is about $1 million.

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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