Letter: Superintendent lists debt-cutting goals

As Rangely School District patrons know, the economy is not good. The most extraordinary economic recession since the Great Depression is taking a toll on families, companies, non-profits and our school district.
I realize many of you are concerned about the expected budget cuts coming for 2010-2011. I share your concerns. The latest information from the state indicates the cuts to K-12 school districts throughout Colorado will be in the range of 6-10 percent for the 2010-11 school year. If the projected cuts are enacted, the Rangely School District Re-4 will be looking at a significant state funding reduction of a minimum of approximately $221,000 for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year, which begins on July 1. The state Legislature will most likely not approve final numbers until May.
Right now, I cannot tell you exactly where the cuts will come. What I can share are the steps we are taking to ensure the highest quality educational service to our community while preserving every possible program.
Our goals in facing these cuts are very simple:
• Limit cuts in the classroom to the maximum extent possible to ensure continued high-quality education.
• Preserve as many programs as possible.
• Continue the district’s dedication to standards-based instruction and innovative curriculum revision, which we know benefits student achievement.
• Continue to improve instructional effectiveness through professional development
We are not approaching these cuts lightly, and I am committed to providing you information in a timely and accurate manner. That commitment is why I have shared with principals and the school board the list of possible cuts we are examining. Furthermore, this is why I am sharing this information with you on our district Web site.
I know the uncertainty surrounding the district’s budget is difficult. There are rumors about where the district is planning to make cuts — many of them based in little or no truth. In an effort to help ease that uncertainty, I am sharing with you our most current thinking about where budget cuts could occur. Please keep in mind that as state revenue projections change, and the budget process moves forward, this list could change or expand.
• Increasing revenues — mill levy override
• Class sizes
• Staffing
• Salary and benefits
• District fees
• Across-the-board operating budgets
• Transportation/travel expenses
• Extracurricular activities
As the budget planning process proceeds, the Rangely School District Re-4 will be conducting public budget forums to involve our patrons in the process. The budget forums will be designed to share information and to gather input.
During this time, it is my sincere hope that we stand together as a district and search for ways to help others. It is my hope that when we look back on this time and see the unity among us and not isolated individuals focused on their own needs. Let us be committed to each other and work as a team to resolve these issues. We will do everything within our power to stand beside our colleagues.
These are incredibly difficult decisions that will have to be made in the coming months. While making them, our focus must remain on doing our best to put our schools in a position to succeed and to support them in providing the best possible educational opportunities to our students.
We will continue to keep you updated on the district’s budget as the process moves forward, and I welcome your feedback.
Dr. Barry Williams
Rangely school superintendent