Our View: School district’s financial woes could harm community | CraigDailyPress.com

Our View: School district’s financial woes could harm community

It's never an easy reality to face when one of the community's most critical operations is in dire financial stress.

Marred by bad legislation in 2009, Moffat County School District is facing a nearly $850,000 budget deficit for the 2015-16 school year.

And if legislators don't act in favor on Gov. John Hickenlooper's budget proposal to help struggling school districts — Moffat County Board of Education will have to make deep cuts.

Those cuts could come in the form of layoffs, slashing extracurricular programs, after-school activities… maybe even teachers.

The bottom line is that our community has a serious problem, because if our school district loses its ability to operate, it harms the long-term viability of students' brain development and depletes Craig's ability to attract new residents.

It's not necessarily the fault of the school district. In 2009, during the economic downfall, legislators created a negative factor to Amendment 23 that cut per pupil funding.

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Our school district would have gotten $7,462 per pupil from the state prior to the 2009 legislative ruling. Now, we get $6,667 — meaning the district has lost nearly $2.1 million in funding due to the legislation.

That means our school district's future — and the future of our high school, middle school and four elementary schools — lies in the hands of the 2015 Colorado General Assembly.

That speaks volumes to what kind of issues we're facing, and we must pay attention to what happens to K-12 funding decisions at the state level in the next several months.

To combat the fiscal downfall, and also preparing to not come ahead in this year's legislative battle, MCSD is looking at a pile of alternatives to stay out of the red.

If the school district doesn't get help from the state, it might have to ask the community to help in the form of a mill levy. A mill levy is essentially a tax on commercial and residential properties.

We feel the community has to back the school district and its plans at this point. We have to be players on the same team for the long-term viability of Craig and Moffat County.

It's important to be educated on all the issue, which is why the editorial board will attend the Feb. 12 special school board meeting at 7 p.m. at the district's administrative building. We invite the community to attend too.

Next week, MCSD Superintendent Brent Curtice and Financial Director Tinneal Gerber will also meet with the editorial board to outline the issues the district faces.

Education is the groundwork in any society. The community has got to come together and support our education system.

Editorial board

Renee Campbell — newspaper representative

Noelle Leavitt Riley — newspaper representative

Sheli Steele — newspaper representative

Shannon Moore — community representative

Bob Mueller — community representative

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