Moffat County School Board considers role in budget process | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County School Board considers role in budget process

Michael Neary

— As members of the Moffat County Board of Education discussed how they would approach budget considerations this year, several noted the need to gather public input.

Board Secretary Charity Neal said she wanted to see a balanced committee gather feedback — a committee that contained no more than 50 percent district staff members and that also contained two board members.

"I'm uncomfortable catering to any individual group," she said.

In an interview after the session, Neal said she would like to discuss further the possibility that the board may work with a steering committee made up of a group of district staff members — one that's already begun to solicit community feedback — or that the board may work independently from that group.

A board work session is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, in the administration building to discuss the budget process further.

"I don't know that we're done discussing what a community input committee would look like," Neal said.

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Neal also noted the importance of outreach to Spanish-speaking members of the community.

"I would like there to be (outreach)," she said, adding that she was not aware of such an effort in the past.

Neal said such outreach could include a Spanish invitation for feedback, along with providing interpreters at meetings.

"If we had enough people interested, there could be an entire meeting that they could have in Spanish," Neal added, noting that community members could later report back on their conclusions.

Wednesday's work session also included discussion of whether the board would insist on a balanced budget, as opposed to spending from reserve funds, and whether members would advocate a mill levy override or a future bond issue. Several board members said they could not support a mill levy override, particularly before they had first charted out a possible budget without one.

Members offered varied views on the virtues of a balanced budget.

"I am adamant about a balanced budget," board member Darryl Steele. "What I would like to see us do is task the administration with coming up with a plan to have a balanced budget without a mill levy override."

Board member JoAnn Baxter cautioned that insisting on a balanced budget could reap damaging results for students.

"I fear that a balanced budget will begin to get closer to that student level and we'll deprive them of educational services that they deserve," she said.