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Jefferson County Public Schools is in the early phases of laying groundwork for the 2018/19 budget. During the month of February, the district will begin community engagement, negotiations with the unions and look at cabinet recommendations.
The Jeffco Board of Education got an overview of the timeline in study session Feb. 1.
Board member Brad Rupert pointed out to staff that for him, the most effective community engagement tool was two years ago, when community members were broken into groups from discussion.
“It was helpful for us to have heard those conversations and talk about it with small groups of people,” Rupert said. “I thought that feedback was more useful than some of the other strategies.”
Board members agreed that the telephone town halls the district held last year felt like one-way conversations and that they would prefer a community outreach method that allowed back-and-forth dialog.
“The whole point of having community engagement is to gather input and make decisions based on our voters and taxpayers,” Rupert said.
Board member Ali Lassel agreed saying that the boards job is to be the “eyes and ears and voice for the community” and asked to be in front of community members as much as possible during the engagement sessions.
Four community engagement sessions will be scheduled throughout March and April.
At the March 5 BOE meeting, the board will be asked to give staff early direction and feedback on the upcoming budget.
Superintendent Dr. Jason Glass explained that this will be a high level budget overview with expectations around expenditures to orient around competing needs and seek feedback.
Looking forward to the budget, Rupert reminded the board that there has been an emphasis on catching up on compensations for the past two years.
“I think we kept faith with that, but we’ve been doing that at the expense of addressing a lot of facility needs,” Rupert said. “Yes, it’s absolutely important to continue to remain competitive and compensate people that are actually getting the work done. But it’s also really important that the buildings people are doing work in are safe and functional. We can’t loose sight that we’ve been kicking that can down the road every year and at some point we need to start addressing those needs.”
Based on the governor’s request, Jeffco is looking at an estimated $30 million increase to state funding with $3 million of that passing through to charters.
Final direction for the budget will be sought in April with a proposed budget and public hearing on May 3. Final direction and adoption of the budget is tentatively set for June 7.
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