MCEA president reacts to proposed MCSD budget cuts |

MCEA president reacts to proposed MCSD budget cuts

David Grabowski, president of the Moffat County Education Association, said there was widespread concern among teachers recently.

“It was a shock that the governor’s (proposed) budget included such a drastic cut to K-12 funding,” Grabowski said. “It was not expected at all.

“So, you can imagine the conversations and the number of teachers and staff that have stopped me and asked, ‘How is this going to impact us?’”

On Feb. 15, Gov. John Hickenlooper unveiled his state budget proposal.

The proposal called for cuts of 14 percent to K-12 education throughout Colorado. In Moffat County, the reduction could equal more than $2 million in funding reductions.

The Moffat County School District recently unveiled its own budget proposal to deal with the lower funding. The district’s proposal calls for a reduction of more than 20 FTEs, among other cost-cutting measures.

FTEs — or Full-Time Equivalents — roughly translates to full-time employees, but can also be measured in work hours.

The education association is a union representing the school district’s teachers. The group, which meets on the second Thursday of each month, hasn’t met since the district’s budget proposal was unveiled.

MCEA’s president said it’s too soon in the budgetary process to sound alarms.

“We went through the cuts last year, so we know that a first draft is just that — it’s a first draft,” Grabowski said. “We know we’ll go through three or four budget plans before we get to the final one in June.

“There’s no need to react right now — we’re going to go through the process and have discussions about what’s going on.”

The district has said natural yearly attrition — through employee retirements and relocations — may help the district reach its goals without resorting to layoffs.

Grabowski said the district’s claim is reasonable.

“It sounds realistic with the number of people I know are retiring,” he said. “It sounds realistic, yes.”

However, if future revisions of the budget proposal cut even more FTEs, the move would have an impact.

“I hope there’s no reduction in teachers past what we have to do,” he said. “If we have to start a reduction in force of teachers, if we have to start laying teachers off, that would be a terrible impact to the district.”

Another item in the district’s budget proposal deals with freezing annual pay increases for teachers.

Grabowski said it’s too soon to discuss freezes.

“Negotiations don’t officially begin until April,” he said. “And, once we get into negotiations we don’t discuss what happens in there until it’s all said and done, and we take it to our members and they vote on it.”

Until the budget goes through more revisions, Grabowski said his group isn’t drawing any lines in the sand.

However, he said the group will stand by its creed.

“Our main goal is that student learning and student outcomes aren’t impacted, that we still offer a quality education to all students who attend Moffat County School District,” he said. “That’s always been our main goal.”

When asked if anything in the current budget proposal threatens that goal, Grabowski had a short response.

“It’s hard to say,” he said. “I just hope that where we are now, it doesn’t get worse.”

In the meantime, Grabowski said he’s encouraging community involvement in the budget process.

“I’d encourage teachers, parents and community members to look closely at the proposed budget reductions and to attend school board meetings,” he said. “Ask questions. What does it mean to the school district?”

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