Granby votes to keep pledge to schools |

Granby votes to keep pledge to schools

Tonya Bina

GRANBY – Town board members voted unanimously to donate Granby’s $20,000 pledge for schools – no strings attached.

The decision was made after East Grand Schools Superintendent Nancy Karas and School Board President Tom Sifers addressed the board on May 10, explaining why the district was reluctant to take the community’s $500,000 in raised funds if the they were attached to a two-year commitment to keep Grand Lake and Fraser schools open.

“Do we need your help? Yes we do. Do we need our community to understand and get behind education? Yes we do. Do we have hard decisions to make? We do. Really hard ones,” the superintendent said in closing after walking board members through the district’s two-year budget outlook.

The district’s projections reflect an expected $617,000 deficit for the 2013 school year, which includes proposed 2011-12 budget staff cuts (a total of eight support staff, teachers and directors), no bus replacements, no staff development, no updated teaching texts and learning materials, cuts in athletics and higher fees, and no new library materials. “As a superintendent, I would never recommend we sign on to a 2-year commitment when I’m looking at this as our future,” Karas told the board.

The 2012-13 deficit is calculated by a projected $227,000 increase in costs, such as expired grant cycles, decreased enrollment, increased PERA costs, equipment maintenance, increases in utilities, and lost revenues, the superintendent explained.

If the district opted to update its curriculum and continue with staff development while keeping schools open, she said, the district could face in the ballpark of a $927,000 deficit in 2012.

The superintendent said the district should preserve the freedom to spend reserves as it sees fit, either “on buildings,” or, “on education,” Karas said.

Granby Manager Wally Baird said he understood the superintendent’s hesitancy to saddle the budget with a two-year “schools open” commitment while economic uncertainties linger on the state level. “Your crystal ball isn’t really that clear,” he said.

“It concerns me if the district goes into reserves further,” said Trustee Ken Coatney. “I hate to see a school close, but (the district) needs to protect its reserves as well.”

Coatney moved to give the East Grand Education Foundation the town’s $20,000 to be used by the district, removing the proposed “strings attached.” Board members voted unanimously in favor of the motion, knowing the money would not be reimbursed by a local sales tax initiative in the fall, or otherwise.

“Even if they close the school, there are still needs,” said Granby Mayor Jynnifer Pierro. “We donate to nonprofits every year. How is this different?”

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603.