Letter to the Editor: MSD Board protests funding

Dear Editor:
This is an open letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Colorado State Legislature:
On behalf of the Meeker School Board, we would like to submit this letter regarding the impacts of the recently passed SB13-260 on our school district. We applaud all of the individuals who worked so hard on the bill and for getting it enacted into law. This is a positive step in the right direction for the state in assisting most school districts in educating our youth. However, this bill will have negative financial impacts on the Meeker School District in the upcoming school year.
We are submitting this letter for your consideration, asking for help with the negative financial impacts to our school district as a result of SB13-260. The Meeker School District has been operating on a minimum budget for the past several years. With the continued rise in the cost of living, increasing costs to operate schools and the decrease in revenues across the state, we as a school district have had to make many cuts over the past several years.
We have reduced our teaching staff, which results in increased class sizes. We have made cuts in busing, food services and the overall operating budgets of the school district to accommodate the past revenue shortfalls.
With passage of SB13-260, the Meeker School District will see an additional cut of $352.64 per pupil this coming school year. We currently have about 650 students in our school system, which results in a reduction of approximately $230,000 annually to our school district.
This is $230,000 less than we had to operate last year. This does not take into consideration any increased financial benefits from this bill. The average increase that will be realized by most schools across the state as a result of SB13-260 is $172.85 per student. This would equate to an additional $112,000 increase for our school district — which we will also not see as a result of SB13-260. Combining the reduction in state funding per student and the lost chance to increase student funding, our school district is planning on a budget that is more than over $350,000 less than the 2012-2013 school year. For a small school district such as ours, this is a tremendous negative financial impact. Not to mention the late timeframe in which this bill will take effect.
We have already approved contracts for teachers. We now have to go back and make adjustments down due to this decrease in funding. In common terms, this will probably result in our school district having to cut three or four teaching positions, which is almost 10 percent of our teaching staff, to meet this budget shortfall.
We are currently operating at minimum teacher levels so any additional staff reductions will impact our student’s learning opportunity noticeably and will make it difficult to even offer the basic core level classes, in particular at the high school level — not to mention the potential for lower CSAP and other test scores, which will have future impacts due to new state mandates.
This funding shortfall will probably also require cuts to all portions of the school district’s budgets and personnel.
We are not sure what can be done to help Meeker School District with this unintended but difficult financial situation as a result of SB13-260. We realize this bill is complex in the financial calculations. However, we live in a county that is financially supporting a larger portion of the state due to current increasing assessed values and taxes generated.
We also realize this bill will benefit more than 817,000 students across Colorado and only negatively impact just over 1,280 students in three school districts. However, we feel it is our responsibility to ask for any assistance possible or to at least make you aware of the negative financial impacts this bill will have on our school district and, more importantly, our students.
We realize that the $230,000 or $350,000 amount described above is a small piece of a $153 million increase to state education as a result of this bill. However, our dollar amounts are reductions, not increases.
We look forward to your response and appreciate any consideration and help you may be able to offer Meeker School District.
Iris Franklin – President
Bill deVergie – Vice President
Meeker School District RE-1