District 51 survey shows support for some cost-cutting measures

Preliminary results of an online School District 51 survey show support for a four-day school week and a shorter school year.

Community members, students, parents and School District 51 employees were invited to take the survey between Jan. 22 and Feb. 10.

Of the 2,097 people that completed the survey, 69 percent supported shortening the school year, 72 percent supported increasing activity fees, and 73 percent were OK with having students travel less frequently to the Front Range for sports and other activities.

Another 69 percent supported a four-day school week and 66 percent agreed with charging parents to have their children ride the school bus. Eliminating bus routes for middle school students got the worst reception of all the budget cutting proposals, with 73 percent of respondents not in favor of the possibility.

The survey listed a variety of changes that could be made to save money in the 2010-11 school year and asked participants to say if they agreed, strongly agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with each suggestion. The survey was prompted by the expectation of an $8 million to $12 million shortfall in funding from the state for District 51 next school year.

Superintendent Steve Schultz said the list was not a complete one, nor were all of the suggestions things the school district plans to do.

“When we gave this survey, the intent was to (have responses) help us guide decision making,” Schultz said.

Schultz added some measures, like a four-day school week, would take some time to plan out and would be more likely to be enacted after the 2010-11 school year.

The current school year has not been without its own budget woes. In order to help cover for a state recision of about $550,000 that had been placed in the 2009-10 District 51 budget, school board members voted Tuesday night to have the current school year end May 26. One day of school costs the district about as much as the recision, which legislators made in late January. At the same time, legislators also rescinded $2.7 million from the school district, but that recision was expected. Therefore, the district did not place the amount in its 2009-10 budget.

Originally, the school year was supposed to end May 27, with the last two days of school being added on to the usual number of school days offered in the district. The extra two days were added at the request of teachers.

Teacher representative group Mesa Valley Education Association agreed to drop the second day, but the district said it still didn’t have money to pay for the remaining extra day, so MVEA leaders agreed this month to cancel a teacher inservice day on Feb. 15, make it a holiday, and use the savings to pay teachers for May 26.


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