Budget proposed for Moffat County public schools to add resources, programs | CraigDailyPress.com

Budget proposed for Moffat County public schools to add resources, programs

Moffat County Finance Director John Wall expects to bring a balanced operational budget to the board of education in June.

CRAIG — The annual budgeting process for Moffat County's public schools is underway. Modest increases to revenue and operational savings realized from decisions to repurpose East Elementary School and close the high school pool will mean "new, different and better things, for students and staff," said Superintendent Dave Ulrich.

The budget proposed for the 2018-19 Fiscal Year shows projected revenues of a little more than $21.44 million — slightly higher than the more than $21.42 million revenue in the 2017-18 budget. The proposed 2018-19 budget, before salary increases, estimates expenditures of a little more than $21.04 million.

On the revenue side, the district expects an increase in per-pupil funding from $7,278 to $7,730. Senate Bill 267 was renewed and will, for a second year, provide a boost for rural schools and about $361,000 for Moffat County.

"The proposed budget has added back supports that we've taken away over the years, such as additional resources during lunch, a second middle school counselor, giving raises, things that we haven't been able to do for a while," Ulrich said.

The difference between 2018-19 revenues and expenses is expected to be used to increase staff salaries, a topic currently under negotiation through the Interest Based Strategies process.

"We will bring a balanced operating budget to the board," said Director of Finance John Wall.

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Salaries and benefits comprise the largest portion of expenditures in the budget. The decision to consolidate from four to three elementary schools resulted in the elimination, primarily through attrition, of 11 staff for a savings of about $650,000.

"We were able to place all but one of our teachers in certified roles within the district," Ulrich said.

Project Lead the Way Launch is a new program that will be taught in kindergarten through fifth-grade as a direct result of the decision to consolidate elementary schools.

It "is a national program forming partnerships among public schools, higher education institutions and the private sector in order to encourage students to expand upon their knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics," according to the Colorado PLTW 2018 training conference website.

"PLTW Launch is a series of problem-based activities, aligned to state standards, that provide real work applications to what our students are learning," Ulrich said. "Only 12 schools in Colorado have it."

Repurposing East Elementary School to the Early Education Center and administration officers is estimated to cost about $60,000.

The proposed budget also suggests using reserves for one-time expenditures of about $200,000 for filling in the high school pool and $350,000 to improve infrastructure and technology, and purchase equipment for the Vo-Ag building at the high school.

In terms of other capital projects, "we're trying to make a dent in differed maintenance," Wall said.

Newly released data from the School Finance Project suggested that, since 2009, Moffat County School District has lost more than $17.8 million in revenue.

This amount is about the same as the district's 2017 estimated deficit for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance.

The budget is not final and does not include the following.

• Salary adjustments, as the negotiations process is on-going.

• Changes to district contributions to the public employee retirement fund. The state legislature passed a quarter-percent increase, effective July 2019.

• Changes to health care plans, evaluated and negotiated as part of a renewal process in September and October.

The school board is expected to meet again June 28.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.