W. Grand school budget includes $500K in cuts | SkyHiNews.com

W. Grand school budget includes $500K in cuts

Reid Armstrong
rarmstrong@skyhidailynews.com

KREMMLING – West Grand School District, which serves about 445 students from kindergarten to 12th grade, adopted a budget with $3.87 million in expenditures for the 2011-2012 school year.

The district’s budget also includes a $1.5 million reserve.

Six people attended the May 24 public hearing and budget adoption.

The budget reflects $505,000 in cuts, stemming from $124,000 in sunsetting tax overrides, a $110,000 increase in fuel, utilities and insurance expenditures and a $272,000 loss from reduced state funding and declining enrollment.

The board is budgeting to lose 11 to 12 students next year, based on a five-year average. Last year alone the district lost 25 students, but Superintendent Kevin Chalfant said he hopes to see that number begin to stabilize.

The district also will not benefit from $36,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds next year, and the board will spend an additional $10,000 on enhancing its food service program to meet new federal standards for nutrition.

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Higher fees

To help cover the rising costs of doing business, student athletic fees will increase from $40 to $60 at the high school and from $20 to $30 at the middle school. (Fees are waived for students who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program.)

The board will save $130,000 by reducing transfers into its capital reserves, Chalfant said, which means the district will spend less on summer projects, maintenance and facilities this summer.

The district is cutting its supply budget by 30 percent. (That’s on top of a 25-percent supply budget cut this year.) It also will reduce, without eliminating, some reading, Gifted-Talented and intervention programs.

Salaries are frozen next year, and teachers will not receive a step increase.

Five full time staff positions will be eliminated, some by reducing several positions to half time. One full-time math position will be eliminated at the middle school (due to attrition); two full-time teaching positions at the high school will be reduced to half-time positions, including a special education teacher and a technology teacher; and three classified non-teaching positions will be eliminated, including two para-professional positions and one maintenance position.

The board also is advertising for a new high school principal after Todd Bittner resigned to take a position at Middle Park High School.

Enrollment

Looking forward, Chalfant said he expects the district to fall out of categorical buyout with the reassessment next year, which means West Grand will be funded like other school districts.

He said he’s taking things month to month: “Mid-year rescissions put us in more of a crisis mode,” he said.

Declining enrollment is a big issue for the district, he said: “As long as it stays steady, we can predict and plan.”

“We’re entering into our second year of major cuts and so it’s going to start affecting just about everything the students are involved in – including the classroom,” Chalfant said. “Families will feel it in a variety of areas. We can cut for one year and get by, but when it starts to be two to three years of cuts, it permeates every aspect of the school.”

Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610

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