Letter to the Editor: MSD works to rebuild lost programs

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Dear Editor:
This is to inform constituents of the Meeker School District about recent decisions made by their school board.

As our superintendent, Chris Selle, has presented in his articles to the Herald-Times, the Meeker School District is planning to rebuild education programs that have been lost in recent years, strengthen others and compensate staff for the recent past pay freeze. In order to fund these endeavors, the board has decided to tap district reserve funds on a scale of about $700,000 deficit spending each year for the next two years. Those monies will provide for full-day kindergarten, an additional fifth-grade teacher, a credit recovery program at the high school and step salary increases earned by our teachers.
Some of the funds also will be allocated for additional costs related to cooperative services and retirement benefits. These represent only a few of the unmet needs facing educators in our district.
Other costs also essential to provide basic educational services, must be postponed. Given the current state of school financing, the board believes this deficit spending is required just to provide the minimum educational foundational for students presently enrolled and to retain highly qualified staff.
Colorado ranks among states at the very bottom of education funding. Because of restrictions imposed by state law, there is little prospect that funding will increase in the foreseeable future. At the same time, the state and federal governments have imposed unfunded mandates related to No Child Left Behind and its successor legislation requiring considerable extra time, effort and cost for school districts everywhere.
The Meeker School District presently has about $4.2 million in reserve. Projected revenues for the next school year total about $5.8 million and projected expenses are about $6.5 million. Given requirements to maintain a minimum cash reserve, the district would be able to spend down its reserves at the proposed rate for at most three or four school years, assuming present projections.
District staff and programs were cut to the bone in previous years because of budget shortfalls, and staff have made extraordinary efforts to meet student needs. Staff and administration are reviewing curriculum and facilities to provide further direction on which to base spending decisions.
The board recognizes that optimal early childhood education is essential to later success and that our primary and secondary students deserve the best possible instruction and resources to provide the skills they need as citizens and to compete in our rapidly changing economy. We will make every effort to meet those needs.
Details of the budget proposal are available on the district web site and in the district office. The board meets on the first and third Tuesdays each month except July, and public input is welcome.
Tom Allen, Kevin Amack, Bill deVergie, Bob Dorsett, Bud Ridings, Todd Shults, and David Smith
Board of Education
Meeker School District RE-1