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School board to consider final budget draft today

Moffat County School Board work session and meeting

Thursday, school district administrative building, 775 Yampa Ave.

4 p.m. Work session

Agenda:

• Public Hearing for policy 4342, reduction in professional workforce

• Math curriculum discussion

• Budget discussion

• Regulations discussion:

— 4431, insurance benefits

— 4333, insurance benefits

— 4412, substitute pay

— 4332, substitute pay

— 4453, classified vacations

— 4342, reduction in professional workforce

— 4161, personal business days

— 5320, student fees, fines and charges

— 5573, admission costs

— 5574, activity/athletic fees

• 5:15 p.m. Break

• 6 p.m. Celebrate retirement

6:45 p.m. Regular meeting

Agenda:

• Pledge of Allegiance, visitors, reasons we’re proud, Ed Townsend scholarship presentation

• Consent items:

— Approve April 8 and 22 meeting minutes

— April financial reports

— May check registers

— May personnel report

• Action items:

— Approval of clubs for 2010-11

— Adopt 2010-11 board meeting schedule

— Adopt math curriculum

—Approve negotiations contract

—First reading policy 4161, paid personnel leaves

—Second reading policy 4342, reduction in professional workforce

— First reading policy 5310, student use of district computers and computer systems

—First reading policy 4118, staff use of district computers and computer systems

— First reading policy 5312, student use of electronic devices

— First reading policy 6614, copyright compliance

—First reading policy 5320, student fees, fines and charges

— First reading policy 3544, students with food allergies

• Announcement

• Adjournment

The work session and meeting are open to the public.

After months of discussion, Moffat County School District superintendent Joe Petrone said the final draft of the 2010-11 fiscal year budget looks much like the one that will be up for approval at the June 24 school board meeting.

During a board work session at 4 p.m. today at the district administration building, 775 Yampa Ave., the board will consider a final draft of the 2010-11 budget, including $1.1 million in budget cuts.

A regular meeting will follow at 6:45 p.m.

A public budget hearing is also scheduled for June 10. A time has not been announced.

"We're following a process like we always would," Petrone said. "But, this is by far an atypical year with respect to the reductions."

The district is expecting a 6.35-percent reduction in state revenue, a number that, in the fall of 2009, was projected to be anywhere from 6 to 10 percent.

For the school district, the revenue reductions amounted to approximately $1.1 million of its $20 million budget.

Beginning in January, the district established and worked through a process of discussion, feedback and revision with parents, staff, community members and students, revolving around a three-page budget reduction template.

In those three pages, district-wide impact is clear.

Petrone said the guiding principles behind making the cuts focused on fair and equal reductions, avoidance of cutting entire programs and the retention of target class sizes.

However, it's difficult to avoid impacting children altogether when every employee and service support a child's experience, Petrone said.

"It's coming from a lot of different places," he said of the cuts. "It's a differentiated reduction and it will have wide impact across the schools."

One major budget cut indicates a reduction of six full-time intervention staff members, or paraprofessionals, who provide extra teacher support.

"It's never easy when you're dealing with direct intervention and support people who are providing assistance to teachers and classrooms," Petrone said. "We believe we're able to mitigate the impact of those reductions with the preservation of small class sizes."

Along with maintaining small classes, Petrone said the retention of extracurricular activities was an important consideration.

Through meeting with community members, parents and students, the district learned what others deemed important in education, the superintendent said.

The current draft of the budget does not include the elimination of teacher positions or clubs and activities previously offered.

"During discussions with students, their single biggest issue was maintaining the teachers that they have," Petrone said. "That was number one and that sends a huge, positive message. A secondary issue, probably right up there, was the maintenance of athletics and activities.

"I've always termed programs like athletic, activities, drama and debate as 'co-curricular' programs," he said. "Whenever anyone phrases them as 'extracurricular,' I try—I hope—to point out those activities are opportunities we provide to students that are cherished by our kids."

At the beginning of the process, the option of closing the Moffat County High School pool, and therefore eliminating a sport and physical education programs, was shelved for another year.

The $75,000 it will cost to keep the pool open for another year is not coming out of the budget reductions, however.

District finance director Mark Rydberg said the money will come out of the district's reserve funds.

"We did not want the pool and the decision—or uncertainty about that decision—to take away from other programs," Rydberg said.

Other cuts include the elimination of a full-time administrator at MCHS, reductions in school supplies, a reduction in staff paid holidays, energy savings and a new insurance carrier.

For Petrone, the reduction process has been instructive, but he hopes the district will not have to utilize it again for additional cuts in coming years.

"At the end of the day, it's always about equity, treating a large group of people as individuals, looking at particular line items and finding workable solutions," he said.