by Eli Dokson, Outgoing Superintendent and Kirk Banghart, Incoming Superintendent
Due to a decrease in per pupil funding from the State next year, we are looking at about $300,000 less in 2010. This amounts to a budget crisis that will affect the Moffat School and the Crestone Charter School, and indeed weighs heavily upon the board. On Monday, May 17, the Moffat School Board met to discuss the upcoming 2010-2011 school budget, but your local school district has already tightened its belt, and there is no more room to poke an additional hole.
Educational funding in Colorado has been on a steady decline for many years. In 2003, Colorado spent $551 less per pupil than the national average. In 2008, that gap widened as Colorado spent $1,919 less per pupil than the national average. As Colorado has decreased the amount invested in education, other states have invested more. Neighboring states have continued to spend more per pupil than Colorado: Kansas $2,285 more per pupil; Montana $3,265; New Mexico $1,452; Wyoming $7,748! This gap has been accelerated over the past two years, as Colorado’s financial issues have been balanced in part through decreasing funding for its public schools.
Keep in mind that the recent BEST grant received by the Crestone Charter School is not what we are talking about. Grants for capital construction projects are not from the same source of State dollars. While our charter school is fortunate to be able to construct a new school, this does not mean that there is also more money available for operations and maintenance. The opposite is the case. All school districts in the state will be receiving
far fewer dollars to operate and maintain their schools. However, the mechanism for balancing our state budget by reducing the funding of public education is having a magnified effect on small districts like Moffat.
In the 2009-2010 school year, our school district experienced a decrease of 2.3% in state funding. In 2010-2011, we will see a 6.31% decrease, and 2011-2012 is projected to bring additional cuts of 7-8%. Between the decrease in state funding and an increase in health insurance and mandatory retirement costs, the Moffat School District is estimating the loss of available funds to have reached approximately $645,000 by the 2011-2012 school year. To put this into context, the district budget, including both Moffat School and CCS, is about $3 million per year. This lack of resources is not due to mismanagement at the local level, but due to a clear lack of investment by the state in the children of Colorado.
This is a critical juncture for the entire Moffat School District community. The future of great education in Moffat and Crestone is dependent upon available resources. The School Board, administration and staff are focused on making budget cuts while keeping programs at current levels. Current educational opportunities cannot be maintained, however, unless we are able to find additional sources of funding.
The Moffat School Board and administration are soliciting recommendations from staff and have formed a budget committee to look at cost saving measures to decrease the district’s expenditures, while still providing a high quality educational experience for students for the 2010-2011 school year. We view this as an opportunity to rethink what effective education should look like and how we can provide it in the Moffat School District.