Changes to proposed budget will promote teacher training, campus safety

School district to alter budget before June 6 adoption

Casey Van Divier
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 5/14/19

On May 2, district leaders presented an overview of the proposed budget to the Board of Education, recommending revisions that prompted a nearly two-hour discussion among board members. The overview …

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Changes to proposed budget will promote teacher training, campus safety

School district to alter budget before June 6 adoption

Posted

On May 2, district leaders presented an overview of the proposed budget to the Board of Education, recommending revisions that prompted a nearly two-hour discussion among board members.

The overview showed a change in total state revenue compared to previous assumptions, which reflected policy changes made at the state level. The state will provide an additional $2 million to support Tier B students, who are students with a range of disabilities, and $15.2 million to fund full day attendance for kindergarten students.

These revisions adjusted additional state revenue assumptions to $32.8 million and total expenditures to $41.2 million.

Not reflected in the total revenues are funds received in 2019 due to the passage of Measure 5A, a mill levy override, said chief financial officer Kathleen Askelson.

Those funds were expressed as revenue in a previous budget, but a portion of the sum has been saved to go toward expenses in the 2019-2020 school year. This sum will fully finance the expenditures that the year’s state revenues do not, she said.

Pending negotiations

In the coming weeks, the board will decide how much money to utilize for compensation, Askelson said, and in which ways to allocate those funds. She added that the board has made an effort to compensate district staff members every year to recognize those employees’ value to the district.

In the time preceding the board’s discussion, teachers, staff members and parents showed up to speak to the board regarding compensation.

“You tell me that you value your employees, but your budget doesn’t reflect that,” said Nancy McCanless, a member of the Jeffco Education Support Professionals Association (JESPA).

She explained her concerns that, for employees who are not new to the district, salaries will not increase comparably to the increase in the cost of living.

“You have just told long-term employees that we are not worth a raise,” she said.

Because negotiations between the board and the union are ongoing, the board did not discuss specifics around compensation during the May 2 meeting.

Final additions

The board expressed approval for several other changes to the budget, which will program previously unassigned revenues of roughly $4 million toward different action items.

Included on this list was an additional $1.6 million toward the district’s insurance premiums, which have been on the rise, Askelson said.

The board also approved the allocation of about $660,000 to continue programs geared toward students who are at risk for dropping out. Additional funds will be used to hire transition coordinators to work with at-risk transfer students.

The budget will also designate thousands for professional development; $30,000 will go to providing guidance for low-performing employees and another $30,000 will go to professional training for promoting family engagement in the district.

Though board member Brad Rupert initially expressed doubts about funding this training, he ultimately decided to side with the majority of his colleagues and approve the request.

“I’d like to have more confidence in the likely effectiveness of it,” he said, however, “it is about making [family engagement] consistent across the system. I’m hard-pressed to allow myself to complain about the lack of consistency if I’m not willing to invest a few dollars.”

“I also think we could fund it and say ‘come back to us next year and convince us of its worth,’” board member Amanda Stevens said.

The board went on to approve a $309,232 allocation toward what is known as Educator Pathways to Transform the Task.

The plan will provide professional support and education for staff, especially for first-year teachers. District staff reported that this group feels under-supported in terms of learning how to promote the success of their students.

The money would partially fund opportunities for teachers to learn from their coworkers and incorporate their learnings into the classroom. The district aims to use the plan to enhance student performance throughout the district, especially in middle schools.

“This is not the first year that we have known that there’s a need to improve student growth in middle school,” Stevens said.

Further discussion was prompted by a $236,626 allocation that would preserve full-time equivalent campus security positions, which schools would likely be unable to fund through their individual budgets, Askelson said.

Stevens stressed that, while funding the request would mean allocating less funds toward other priorities than she would prefer, “that is not important enough for me to say no to a safety and security request,” she said.

“I don’t want to see cuts to the current services that exist in our schools,” she said.

The board unanimously approved the request.

District leaders will present a final proposed budget to the board for adoption at its June 6 meeting.

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