Over the past months the School Board, district administration, staff and parents have been scrutinizing the district budget in order to find ways to cut the $325,000 budget shortfall. Every item in the budget was analyzed and discussed in order for us to find a way to balance the budget while keeping a high standard of education for the students of the Moffat School District. The reduction of state funding is affecting both the Moffat K-12 School and the Crestone Charter School.
The Moffat K-12 school this past year has seen five teachers retire or resign their positions. During this budget crisis and because of low numbers of students enrolling and/or moving into the district we decided that this was the time to determine how we could come together and maximize ways of utilizing our highly qualified staff in a more efficient way.
In the elementary level (K-5) we will be moving toward multi-age classrooms and there will be a certified teacher plus a certified para-educator as support in each class.  We will continue our pre-school program that is supported by Colorado Pre-School Program dollars.
In the secondary level (6-12 grades) we will continue to offer the variety of courses as we have in the past.  Through our new alignment we will be focusing on the implementation of a more rigorous curriculum at the secondary level.
We have been researching the idea of multi-age classrooms for some time. We have found supporting evidence showing that multi-age groups of children facilitate bonding among children, teacher(s), and parents.  It also increases the quality of learning time because students and teachers do not experience discontinuity and separation commonly found in the straight-grade class.  Students transfer both content and class-management knowledge to a higher degree, thus providing leadership opportunities for returning students.
At Crestone Charter School (CCS) we also had to adjust to the declining revenue.  The staff has worked hard to analyze the budget. The school has reduced the classroom supplies budget and its travel budget. CCS is also reducing custodial and technology expenditures to balance the drop in state funding.
The School Board, administration and staff are focused on making budget cuts while keeping programs at current levels.  Current educational opportunities cannot be maintained in the future, unless we are able to find additional sources of funding. This will become critical as we start planning for the 2011-2012 school year.
The district’s budget for 2010-2011 is built on three key factors that have a possibility of being pulled for the 2011-2012 school year. The first is the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funding from the federal government. The second is the five year averaging formula from the State, and the third is the continued decrease in State funding per student. The district received approximately $170,000 for SRS in 2009-2010 and the district will see a decrease in 2010-2011 with 2012 being its last funded year without reauthorization.
The district has also seen a steady decline of students over the past five years. The state uses a formula to average the student count in order to allocate the operating revenue for the district.  Going into the 2011-2012 school year the district will loose its highest student average year which will continue to decrease revenue from the state. 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 and federal 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. With these three areas of revenue declining the district will be put in a very difficult position without additional revenue.
School districts have only a few options as to how to increase revenue. The first is to raise the total amount of students that attend, and the second is to increase revenue through local millage. Increasing student enrollment is tied to people moving into our community or parents transporting students into the district.  Until we see new industry move into the Valley, we are not likely to see this option offset the decrease mentioned earlier.
Local millage increase is an option that as a community we must also consider. Currently of the 178 school districts in Colorado 102 receive additional local support through mill levies.  Moffat Consolidated School district currently does not receive extra funding through mill levy overrides.
The concern for the community is that without an increase of revenue, the district will have to look at more drastic measures in the future to ensure that quality education will continue to be provided in the Moffat/Crestone communities.
With this continued lack of financial support from the State and Federal governments, our children’s futures are in your hands.