School Board to discuss budget reduction |

School Board to discuss budget reduction

Nicole Inglis

With budget season looming, the Moffat County School District will turn to four guiding principles to steady its course through the process of budget reductions.

The first guideline, and the most important, according to Assistant Su­per­intendent Christine Vil­­lard, is to remain true to the district's core beliefs: student learning and achievement, and continuous improvement.

"It will help guide the decision making process," Villard said. "As we start to look at specific items in the budget, we will see how they go back and how they tie in to the guiding principles."

At a 4 p.m. work session before its monthly meeting Thursday, the Moffat County School Board will discuss the final draft of the guiding principles and the plan for the process of cutting almost 10 percent from the district's $20 million budget.

Because of the economic re­­cession and decreased revenue, the state planned to cut 4 to 8 percent of funding from K-12 education, it's largest budget line.

In December, the state estimated cuts of 6 percent from K-12, however, that number quickly is climbing, district Finance Director Mark Rydberg said

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"The last thing I heard was 7.75," Rydberg said. "And that could still change."

For Moffat County, state funding makes up about three quarters of the district's revenue. Combined with increased insurance premiums and other expenses for the 2010-2011 school year, the district is looking at cuts amounting to 10 percent, or $2 million.

Although the school district has a specific process for creating the budget each year, Rydberg said this year's process is highlighted because of the need for cuts and the potential impact of those changes.

"Ten percent is a significant number," he said. "It'll definitely involve some tough decisions.

"The budget season is a very anxious time every year. It's important to make sure people know how the process is going to go, and hopefully that will provide some calm."

Villard said the reduction plan was designed to give the faculty, staff, parents and community a detailed look at how the process of making cuts will occur.

"I think it's important for people to understand and know there is a process and that there is a thoughtful methodology that we are using to make these difficult decisions," she said. "When people are informed of the process and know when they can give input, it helps to gather the information that we need."

The plan includes a timeline for discussions and feedback of chosen budget cuts.

The timeline indicates the first draft of an actual template of budget cuts will be discussed at February meetings, including parent advisory committees, the school district accountability committee and the Feb. 25 School Board meeting.

Rydberg said the timeline and listed opportunities for feedback from the community provide transparency through the process of making cuts.

"The school district has responsibilities to its staff, to the community, to the taxpayers and all these different entities," he said. "I think spelling out a process and getting a general timeline is important in order to keep some type of consistency and expectations known."

Villard encouraged parents to attend PAC meetings at their respective schools, the SDAC meeting and School Board meeting work sessions, during which a budget discussion will be a monthly fixture until June.

"We need everyone's best thinking, whether it's what to cut, ways to generate income or ways to share services," she said. "Those are all things that will help make the decisions easier. We all have a stake in it. Every community member does. It impacts everybody."

If you go

What: Moffat County School Board meeting

When: 4 p.m. work session, 6:30 p.m. regular meeting, Thursday

Where: Yampa Building, 775 Yampa Ave.

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