Education association asks legislators not to touch $110M in school funds

The Mesa Valley Education Association is circulating a petition asking state legislators not to pull $110 million from school districts statewide.

The state asked school districts to keep 1.9 percent of their budgets in an emergency reserve fund this year. Reserve dollars will return to state coffers if legislators vote to take the money back by Jan. 29.

District 51 has budgeted around the reserve amount, which is $2.78 million locally, but has not yet adjusted the 2009-10 budget to account for a $750,000 shortfall caused by fewer students enrolling this fall than the district anticipated.

MVEA representative Jim Smyth said accounting for $750,000 would be easier than slicing $3.53 million from District 51’s budget.

The purpose of the petition is to foster “awareness to legislators that we have community support” for keeping the emergency reserve dollars with the school districts, Smyth said.

“If we say nothing, that 1.9 percent may go back to the state. If we say something ... the worst they can do is say no,” Smyth said in a presentation to District 51 school board members at a board meeting Tuesday night.

The education association, which advocates for teachers in contract negotiations and is a proponent of K-12 education, plans to deliver petition sheets as early as next month to Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, and Reps. Steve King of Grand Junction and Laura Bradford of Collbran.

Anyone willing to sign the petition can contact the MVEA at 242-6507. People can also sign a postcard asking Penry, King or Bradford to vote no on rescinding the $110 million. The postcard allows writers to check a box saying they are a community member, District 51 teacher or employee, or a parent of a District 51 student.

In other news from the meeting:

The District 51’s lease with Dell ends for most desktop computers in the district next summer. Odus Harwood, the district’s technology services executive director, found the district would likely see a cost savings compared to the current lease agreement if the district entered an eight- to 12-year lease with Dell.

School board members advised Harwood to keep exploring the possibility of a long-term lease. Harwood likely will return to the school board with a formal request for a lease adoption in mid-December.

School board members presented $33,000 checks to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, Grand Junction Police Department and Fruita Police Department to help the departments provide school resource officers to the school district.

Palisade High School Activities Director Michael Krueger received an IBM High School Hero of the Week award.


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