Fewer dollars for District 51
School District 51 has identified $4.4 million in cuts for 2010–11 so far.
With results of negotiations with the teachers’ association soon to be finalized, the school board will see a proposed 2010–11 budget at its Tuesday meeting and will adopt the budget in June.
On top of receiving $385 less per student this fall compared to what was originally budgeted last fall, the district is expecting to receive even less state money as students move out of town. Eighty-six kindergarten through eighth-grade students already have left the district since Oct. 1, according to Melissa Callahan DeVita, District 51 support services executive director, and plenty of parents have inquired about transcripts as they prepare to switch school districts over the summer.
“We usually lose students at the high school level, so to have K–8 down shows families are moving out,” DeVita said.
DeVita said District 51 expects to lose about 200 students before the first day of school. Having the highest unemployment rate in the state of Colorado for months may explain why, DeVita said.
“Families usually follow jobs,” she said.
Good fiscal management in the past helped the district deal with budget cuts this year, DeVita said. But she’s not sure how the district will handle another year of cuts, something the state is projecting for 2011–12.
“If that comes to fruition, we’re going to be stuck making some really difficult decisions,” DeVita said.
DeVita said District 51 is too rural to see much of a savings or eliminate bus routes by increasing the walking distance to schools by a half-mile, something larger districts such as Cherry Creek chose to do.
On the flip side, DeVita said the four-day school week adopted in Pueblo County School District 70 and some smaller districts tends to work better in districts that are more rural than District 51, but District 51 is examining whether it would be worth the change in Mesa County.
Layoffs and school closures aren’t on District 51’s radar for this fall, DeVita said.