District 51 cuts $2.3 million from budget

District 51 school board members approved a budget for next school year shaved of $2.3 million in expenditures at a board meeting Tuesday.

The school district had to reserve $132 per student in the district to comply with a new state requirement that school districts set aside money that the state could pull back into its coffers any time before Jan. 29, 2010, depending on how the economy fares. District 51 staff decided to pinch funding for staff travel, extended contracts for some workers, substitutes for non-teacher district employees, technology, materials and a slight reduction in building budgets.

Within the $2.3 million amount, the district also cut $1.06 million for a little more than five full-time equivalent staff members and staff activities. Those items, however, will be paid for with federal stimulus dollars.

New items in the 2009-2010 budget include adding the seventh grade to Dual Immersion Academy, funding a new math program, expanding summer extended learning programs and paying $100,000 toward the full $1 million it costs to bring resource officers into the schools.

Until now, the Fruita and Grand Junction police and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department has paid the amount on their own.

Superintendent Tim Mills in part credited the school resource officers with helping to bring expulsions down to 82 this past school year, a record for recent years. In 2007-2008, the district expelled 92 students.

Mills also credited progress monitors, which attend to personalized learning needs and help students transition from year-to-year, with helping lower the expulsion rate.

“I’m pleased with the direction we’re headed with this program,” Mills said.

School board members also said goodbye to Mills, who will relinquish his title at the end of the month. Tuesday was his last school board meeting in Grand Junction before moving to Oregon to become superintendent of the North Clackamas School District.

Mills called working with the board a “privilege.”

“You are volunteers of the highest order and I salute you,” Mills said.


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